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BMC Womens Health. 2004 Aug 25;4 Suppl 1:S19.


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University Health Network Women's Health Program, University of Toronto, 657 University Ave, ML-2004, Toronto, M5B 2N2, ON, Toronto, Canada.



Depression causes significant distress or impairment in physical, social, occupational and other key areas of functioning. Women are approximately twice as likely as men to experience depression. Psychosocial factors likely mediate the risks for depression incurred by biological influences.


Data from the 1999 National Population Health Survey show that depression is more common among Canadian women, with an annual self-reported incidence of 5.7% compared with 2.9% in men. The highest rates of depression are seen among women of reproductive age. Predictive factors for depression include previous depression, feeling out of control or overwhelmed, chronic health problems, traumatic events in childhood or young adulthood, lack of emotional support, lone parenthood, and low sense of mastery. Although depression is treatable, only 43% of depressed women had consulted a health professional in 1998/99 and only 32.4% were taking antidepressant medication. People with lower education, inadequate income, and fewer contacts with a health professional were less likely to receive depression treatment.


A better understanding of factors that increase vulnerability and resilience to depression is needed. There is also a need for the collection and analysis of data pertaining to: prevalence of clinical anxiety; the prevalence of depression band 12 months after childbirth factors contributing to suicide contemplation and attempts among adolescent girls, current treatments for depression and their efficacy in depressed women at different life stages; interprovincial variation in depression rates and hospitalizations and the impact and costs of depression on work, family, individuals, and society.

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