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Violence Vict. 1998 Winter;13(4):347-60.

Major depressive disorder and depressive symptomatology as predictors of husband to wife physical aggression.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 11794-2500, USA.


This study investigated the association between a husband's depressive symptomatology and the frequency of physical aggression toward his wife, as well as a husband's Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and the frequency of physical aggression toward his wife. We assessed physically aggressive men who volunteered for treatment with their wives (N = 89). Almost one third had moderate levels of depressive symptomatology (Beck Depression Inventory [BDI > or = 14]), but only 11% met criteria for MDD (based on a structured interview [SCID]). Although the rate of MDD was not absolutely high, it was higher than that reported in a community sample (i.e., 3%). A significant relationship between increased depressive symptomatology and frequency of physical aggression was found, but the association was most likely accounted for by self-reported anger. Related contextual factors including marital discord and psychological aggression are addressed. Theoretical and treatment implications are discussed, including the severity of the treatment population (volunteer vs. court mandated), and severity of the depression (symptomatology vs. clinical diagnosis).

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