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J Abnorm Psychol. 2007 Feb;116(1):116-24.

Major life events and major chronic difficulties are differentially associated with history of major depressive episodes.

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Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, OR, USA.


Major life events have been found to precede onsets of a 1st lifetime episode of depression more commonly than subsequent recurrences. Despite general empirical support for this finding, few data directly address how the role of major life events may change over successive recurrences. Further, little research has examined major chronic difficulties in relation to a 1st lifetime episode versus a recurrence of depression. The present study tested the associations between major life events and major difficulties in relation to lifetime history of depressive episodes in a sample of 96 individuals diagnosed with major depression. Using investigator-based measures of life stress, the authors found that, whereas major life events were associated with fewer lifetime episodes, major chronic difficulties were related to more prior episodes. These findings are discussed in terms of underlying mechanisms that may account for the changing role of major life stress over successive recurrences of depression.

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