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evolutionary significance of emotions !!

Nick Medford nick at hermit0.demon.co.uk
Sat Mar 4 13:47:26 EST 2000

In article <e6meZVah$GA.215 at cpmsnbbsa02>, sisial
<sisial at email.msn.com> writes
>"Nick Medford" <nick at hermit0.demon.co.uk> wrote in message
>news:l$MmRCAPLAw4Ew$v at hermit0.demon.co.uk...
>> Where did you actually get your figure from? I have never seen any figures
>> for "actual reported incidences of depression" that would yield such a
>> discrepancy in lifetime risk for men and women.
>Encyclopedia Brittanica. They present an estimated annual incidence for
>major depression of about 140 for men and 4,000 for women per 100,000

Yup, just checked my own copy of the EB, that's exactly what it says. But it
has to be wrong. I suspect a zero fell off the end of the figure for males. I
also suspect these figures refer to a wider spectrum of disorders than what
you or I might refer to as major depression.
> I assumed these figures were drawn from the World Health Report.
>I was unable to find the specific data on the WHO website for major
>depression. However, "Global Burden of Disease" reports a total estimated
>incidence of major depression of around 4%. The numbers from Encyclopedia
>Britannica corresponded to this, so I used those numbers.
>I also notice that I was misquoted as saying "actual reported incidences of
>depression". The quote should be "actual reported incidences of major
>depression". Please do not think I am nitpicking over terms. Depression in
>my mind refers to general depression which includes major (unipolar and
>bipolar) and minor (dysthymic and cyclothymic) affective disorders. My
>estimates were specifically for major depression. (Actually, I think I may
>have used severe depression rather than major depression, but the meaning is
>the same).

No, I was talking about major unipolar depression. If you include minor
affective disorders the lifetime prevalence (for the population as a whole)
goes up to around 20% of the population. Personally I wouldn't include
chronic dysthymia as a major affective disorder.

Bipolar disorder actually shows no sex bias. The lifetime prevalence is about
0.012%, males = females.
>Are you sure the 2:1 ratio is for major depression and not research into
>general depression? The APA estimates risk of general depression around 25%
>in women and 12.5% in men.

Yes, the 2:1 ratio is roughly correct for both major and minor, although the
most recent estimate I saw (for minor) was 25% for women, 15% for men.

> As I said, this ratio is then often applied to
>major depression (and sometimes even bipolar disorder) with the argument
>that men are less likely to seek help for major depressive episodes. I
>haven't been able to locate any risk studies specifically oriented towards
>major depression.

I will have a look on Medline next week. 
Nick Medford

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