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A Life Course Approach to Women's Health$
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Diana Kuh and Rebecca Hardy

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780192632890

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780192632890.001.0001

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Depression and psychological distress: a life course perspective

Depression and psychological distress: a life course perspective

(p.161) Chapter 8 Depression and psychological distress: a life course perspective
A Life Course Approach to Women's Health

Barbara Maughan

Oxford University Press

Biological, psychological, and social factors contribute to risk for depressive disorders. Understanding how they combine, their relative salience at different stages in the life course, and why women are at such markedly increased risk constitute significant challenges for research. This chapter provides an overview of recent evidence on these three related themes. It begins by sketching in epidemiological findings on changing rates and gender ratios in depressive disorders from childhood to older age, highlighting the periods when women's increased vulnerability first emerges, and when it appears to decline. It then examines the main domains of risk for depressive conditions, exploring how far men and women differ in exposure or susceptibility to risks that affect both sexes, or whether some gender-specific risks may be involved. Throughout, it highlights the differing pathways through which individual vulnerabilities, childhood adversities and later stressors have been argued to combine in the genesis of depression.

Keywords:   depressive disorders, biological factors, psychological factors, social factors, risk factors, adult depression

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