Recurrence of depression after bereavement-related depression: Evidence for the validity of DSM-IV bereavement exclusion from the epidemiologic catchment area study

Jerome C. Wakefield, Mark F. Schmitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder exclude bereavement-related depressive episodes that are brief and lack certain severe symptoms and are thus better explained as normal grief responses. However, the DSM-5 Task Force proposes to eliminate this exclusion because of a lack of evidence that such episodes differ relevantly from standard major depression. Using the two-wave longitudinal Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study, we compared 1-yr depression recurrence rates at wave 2 of four groups at wave 1 baseline: (1) those with no history of depressive disorder (n = 18,239), (2) those who had only lifetime excludable bereavement-related depression (n = 25), (3) those with brief-episode (≤2 months duration) lifetime standard depressive disorder (n = 446), and (4) those with nonbrief lifetime standard depressive disorder (n = 581). The recurrence rate in the excludable-depression group (3.7%) was not significantly different from the no-history group (1.7%) but was significantly and substantially lower than in the brief and nonbrief standard depression groups (14.4% and 16.2%, respectively). These findings confirm findings reported by Mojtabai (Arch Gen Psychiatry 68:920-928, 2011) using a different data set and time frame and thus substantially strengthen the support for the validity of bereavement exclusion and for its preservation in the DSM-5.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-485
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Volume200
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Keywords

  • DSM-5
  • Depression
  • bereavement
  • diagnosis
  • grief
  • harmful dysfunction
  • validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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