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Am J Psychiatry. 1998 Oct;155(10):1407-14.

Lifetime and twelve-month prevalence rates of major depressive episodes and dysthymia among Chinese Americans in Los Angeles.

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  • 1Neuropsychiatric Institute and the Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.



The authors' goal was to estimate the lifetime and 12-month rates of major depressive episodes and dysthymia for Chinese Americans who reside in Los Angeles. This effort, the Chinese American Psychiatric Epidemiological Study, is the first large-scale community psychiatric epidemiological study on an Asian American ethnic group that used DSM-III-R criteria for major depressive episodes and dysthymia.


A multi-stage sampling design was used to select respondents for participation in the survey. The sample included 1,747 adults, 18-65 years of age, who resided in Los Angeles County and who spoke English, Mandarin, or Cantonese.


Approximately 6.9% of the respondents had experienced an episode of major depression and 5.2% had had dysthymia in their lifetime. The 12-month rates of depressive episode and dysthymia were 3.4% and 0.9%, respectively. The most consistent correlate of lifetime and 12-month depressive episode and dysthymia was social stress, measured by past traumatic events and recent negative life events.


The Chinese American Psychiatric Epidemiological Study provides a rare opportunity to investigate the heterogeneity within a single Asian American ethnic group, Chinese Americans, and to identify the subgroups among Chinese Americans who may be most at risk for mental health problems.

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