The objectives of this study are: (1) identification of predictors for the three-year course of recurrent depression
in the rarely studied, but relevant sample of primary care patients, and (2) investigation whether different outcome indicators,
time to recurrence, proportion depression-free time and mean severity of depressive symptoms during follow-up, are associated
with different risk factors.
Depression course was established by assessing 110 patients three-monthly
with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview and the BDI, during a three-year period. Eight (groups of) predictors,
assessed at baseline, were examined: socio-demographics, parental depression, history and severity of depression, anxiety,
coping potential, social dysfunctioning and physical functioning.
Time to recurrence was predicted by
number of previous episodes (OR = 1.91). Both proportion depressive disorder-free time and mean depression severity during
follow-up were predicted by: severity of depression (B = − .19 and .21 respectively), anxiety (B = − .32 and .33), social
dysfunctioning (B = − .21 and .22) and physical functioning (B = .24 and − .39). Mean severity was additionally predicted
by: educational level (B = − .21), duration of the longest prior episode (B = .32), and coping potential (B = − .40). Coping
potential and number of previous episodes were marginally significant predictors for all three outcomes.
substantial, sample size was restricted.
Different outcome variables are predicted by different risk
factors. Restriction to one outcome may lead to missing important determinants of the depression course. Number of prior episodes
and coping potential seem to warrant special attention from the GP.