Lifetime major depression and comorbid disorders among current-era women veterans
Background Most research on women veterans' mental health has focused on postraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or reactions to military sexual trauma. Although depression is also a frequent diagnosis among women veterans, little is known about its characteristics, including comorbid conditions and patterns of disorder onset. We investigated lifetime diagnoses of major depressive disorder (MDD) and comorbid conditions in a primarily treatment-seeking research sample of male and female veterans to determine frequency of lifetime MDD, comorbid disorders and their temporal onset. Method The 1700 veterans (346 women; 1354 men) completed diagnostic interviews as participants in a research registry. Rates of and gender differences in lifetime MDD and comorbid conditions (PTSD, other anxiety disorders, substance use and eating disorders) were calculated. We assessed the percentage of cases in which MDD preceded the comorbid condition (primary onset MDD). Results Lifetime MDD was frequent in this sample, and significantly more common in women (46.5%) than in men (36.3%). Gender differences in comorbidity were found for anxiety and eating disorders (more common in women); and for alcohol and nicotine use disorders (more common in men). However, primary onset MDD was no more common among women than among men, and was in neither case the predominant pattern of comorbid lifetime disorder onset. Limitations The sample is not representative of all veterans, and lifetime diagnoses were based on retrospective recall. Conclusions MDD usually follows the onset of other comorbid disorders among women veterans, indicating the need to assess for earlier lifetime disorders in veterans with MDD.
Curry, JF; Aubuchon-Endsley, N; Brancu, M; Runnals, JJ; Fairbank, JA
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