The role of stressful life events experienced during childhood and adolescence in the development of major depression
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Despite the fact that the role of stressful life events (SLE) in the development of major depression (MD) has been much studied, there are a few gaps in the literature. Little of the research has used longitudinal and, in particular, population representative samples, and examined the significance of both the total accumulation of events and the variety of events. This study investigated the potential role of up to 26 SLE-s recorded at age 18 in the occurrence of lifetime major depression as measured in a psychiatric interview conducted at age 25. I have used data of the longitudinal Estonian Children Personality Behaviour and Health Study, comprising two birth cohorts. Assessment of the total number of SLE-s revealed that experience of even only one traumatic event can increase the risk to meet criteria of lifetime diagnosis of major depression (OR=1.43, 95% CIs [1.25, 1.64] p <.001). The strongest association between MD with specific SLEs (ORs ranged from 2 to 4.5) was found for persistent severe worrying, accidents and traumas, poor or absent relationship with a separately living parent, suicidal attempts, suicidal behaviour and depression of a close relative. I also found that the greatest impact across abuse related SLE-s was elicited by emotional abuse in the family. Chronic and episodic SLE-s had independent effects on major depression, and there was no moderation effect between them. The impact of chronic SLEs on major depression was slightly larger compared to episodic events. I did not find any evidence for the association between SLE-s and MD for the group of events "Loss and parental separation". Neither could gender differences across both cohorts and all event groups be demonstrated.