Risk for major depression found to increase with more affected family members

Risk for major depression increased with more affected family members

The risk for major depression (MD) is elevated in association with an increased number of affected family members, according to a study published online Feb. 8 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Frederikke Hørdam Gronemann, Ph.D., from Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues examined the association between family MD history and risk for MD. Data were included for 2,903,430 Danish individuals of whom 37,970 men and 70,223 women (2.6 and 5 percent, respectively) developed MD during follow-up.

The researchers found that exposure to maternal, paternal, or full sibling MD was associated with a twofold higher risk for MD for men (incidence rate ratios [IRRs], 2.10, 2.04, and 2.08, respectively); the associated risk increased with the number of affected family members. A similar pattern was seen for women. Family members’ age at MD onset was not associated with MD for men.

For women, maternal MD onset at age 69 years or younger was associated with increased IRRs for MD compared with maternal onset at age 70 years or older (IRRs, 1.64, 1.62, 1.56, and 1.67 for age younger than 40, 40 to 49, 50 to 59, and 60 to 69 years, respectively). For men, increased IRRs were seen in association with exposure to maternal MD at younger than 30 years (IRRs, 1.95, 2.31, 2.18, and 1.42 for age <1, 1 to <12, 12 to <19, and 19 to <30 years, respectively), while a lower IRR was seen for exposure to maternal MD at 30 years or older (IRR, 0.77).

“The risk of MD was approximately two times higher among both men and women with a family history of MD, irrespective of which family member was affected,” the authors write.

More information:
Frederikke Hørdam Gronemann et al, Association of Familial Aggregation of Major Depression With Risk of Major Depression, JAMA Psychiatry (2023). DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2022.4965

Journal information:
JAMA Psychiatry

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