An Examination of Age-specific Cohort Risks for Depression

Genevieve N Izzo, Fordham University


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common and debilitating mental illness. Despite increased public awareness and advances in diagnostic and treatment research, large-scale epidemiological surveys indicate that the current estimated prevalence rates of MDD in the U.S. are about the same or slightly higher than those documented in the 1980s and before. Increasing trends in lifetime rates of depression in young cohorts were first identified after World War II and continued to be documented throughout the following decades, creating the effect of an overall increasing trend in MDD rates over time. However, in more recent samplings this pattern appears to have started to taper off, which may be an indication of a specified risk for depression in individuals born in the decades proceeding the second World War. This study examined evidence of a specified MDD risk in individuals belonging to a baby-boomer birth-cohort. Depression scores were compared between two sets of methodologically similar data, and a corresponding model for conceptualizing specific MDD birth-cohort vulnerabilities was developed. An initial study aim was to compare lifetime MDD between individuals in Cohort 1 (born between the years of 1955 and 1962) and Cohort 2 (born between the years of 1965 and 1972). While there was no evidence to support a difference in the quantity of lifetime MDD between the two cohorts, there was evidence to support a difference in the quality of lifetime MDD between the two cohorts. Results from chi-square analyses and CA provided evidence for cognitive vulnerability risk factors associated with MDD for the baby boom cohort and are in line with the applied framework for understanding intercohort risk variation. Findings from this study regarding quality of depression in baby-boomers may be helpful for early recognition of depression in this population. In addition, when thoughtfully applied, an awareness of generational patterns can help clinicians to better understand the actions and motivations of others. That is, through gaining a contextual perspective of how and why persons think or feel the way that they do, clinicians can better help them to achieve their treatment goals.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Quantitative psychology|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Izzo, Genevieve N, "An Examination of Age-specific Cohort Risks for Depression" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI13902399.