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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The influence of age on the female/male ratio of treated incidence rates in depression

Karin Gutiérrez-Lobos*, Michael Scherer, Peter Anderer and Heinz Katschnig

Author affiliations

Division of Social Psychiatry and Evaluation Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria

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Citation and License

BMC Psychiatry 2002, 2:3  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-2-3

Published: 22 January 2002

Abstract

Background

Poor data exist on the influence of psychosocial variables on the female/male ratio of depression because of the small number of cases and the resulting limited numbers of variables available for investigation. For this investigation a large number of first admitted depressed patients (N = 2599) was available which offered the unique opportunity to calculate age specific sex ratios for different marital and employment status categories.

Methods

Age and sex specific population based depression rates were calculated for first ever admissions for single year intervals. Moving averages with interpolated corrections for marginal values in the age distribution were employed.

Results

For the total group the female/male ratio of depression showed an inverted U-shape over the life-cycle. This pattern was influenced by the group of married persons, which showed a sex-ratio of 3:1 between the age of 30–50, but ratios of around 1:1 at younger and older ages. For not married persons the female/male ratio was already around 2:1 at the age of 18 and rose to 2.5:1 in mid-life and declined to 1 at around 55. The almost parallel decline of depression rates in employed men and women resulted in a female/male ratio of about 2:1 from age 18 to age 50 and became 1 after the age of 60. The female/male ratio among the not employed was about 1, in mid-life it became negative.

Conclusions

Our analyses show that the gender-gap in first admitted depressed patients is age dependent and that psychosocial factors modify the sex ratio.