HOW IMPORTANT ARE FAMILIAL FACTORS IN DEPRESSION?
Aim: Depression is a common disease encountered in primary care with a prevalence of 5 to 25%. Although the importance of family factors has been stressed in some studies, the rank of importance of different family factors remains obscure. Hypothesizing that family factors are related with depression, this study aimed to investigate the effect of different family factors on depression.
Methods: Contacts of 78 patients with the diagnosis of depression were taken from the records of Trakya University Family Practice outpatient clinic. Fourty five of these could be reached and 28 accepted the invitation to join the study. From the same policlinic records, 250 files adult patients without a former diagnosis of depression were randomly selected and invited to join the study (control group); hundred and sixty-six persons accepted the invitation. Beck Depression Inventory was applied to all participants. Among the control group, 36 patients had a history of depression and another 10 patients received 18 or more scores from the Beck Depression Inventory. The study group consisted of 74 patients with current depression or a history of depression, while the control group consisted of 120 persons without a history of depression and a Beck Depression Inventory score of 17 or less. A questionnaire querying some family features, socio-economic characteristics, and demographic features was applied to the participants. Results were evaluated with the Chi-square test.
Results: The mean age of the participants was 46.0 ± 13.35 years with 169 females and 25 males. Family history of depression was found in 38.8% and 15.2% of the study and control groups respectively (p<0.05). Being the first child and the first child of the sex was significantly more common in the control group when compared with the study group (p<0.05).
Conclusion: While a family history of depression led to a predisposition towards depression, being the first child or the first child of the sex seemed to be preventive. This issue should be kept in mind in evaluating primary care patients. Our findings may be attributable to the social structure of the Turkish population. It is highly possible that families have a different perceived importance for their first children, resulting in different responsibilities, power, higher self-esteem, and resources to cope with problems for these children even in their adulthood.