A new story from the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut, indicates that major depressive episodes (MDEs) are far more common that had previously been believed. Earlier surveys had set the figures for people who have MDEs at some point of life thus: 17% of women, 10% of men. But the doctors at Yale now suggest more accurate figures are: 30% women, 17% men.
Jamie Tam, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, led a team that created a model designed to correct for recall error. Until now, the figures for MDEs have generally been conjured up by simply asking people whether they remembered MDEs in their lives. But people sometimes forget or repress such episodes in their lives, or for various reasons they may report inaccurately.
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An MDE is an intense depressive episode that lasts for two weeks or longer. Having a first MDE, often in adolescence, increases the likelihood that one will have a second. As Professor Tam said in releasing this study: “Anything we can do to prevent or treat episodes among young people could lead to larger health benefits over the course of their lives.”