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Br J Psychiatry. 1988 Jun;152:775-82.

The Camberwell Collaborative Depression Study. III. Depression and adversity in the relatives of depressed probands.

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  • 1University of Wales College of Medicine.


The relationship between life events and depressive disorder was assessed in 83 families ascertained through depressed probands. Contrary to expectation and to previous suggestions, we found no inverse relationship between the presence of familial loading and reactivity to stress. Thus the relatives of probands whose onset of depression followed life events or chronic difficulties had slightly higher lifetime rates of depression than the relatives of probands whose onset was not associated with adversity. There was only a weak and non-significant relationship between recent life events and current disorder among relatives, and no apparent tendency for life-event-associated depression to 'breed true' within families. Comparison with a community sample showed that the first-degree relatives of depressives had significantly elevated rates both of current depression and of recent threatening life events. This finding still held when proband-associated life events were discounted, suggesting that both liability to depression and propensity to experience life events are familial.

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