Does age at onset of first major depressive episode indicate the subtype of major depressive disorder? The clinical research center for depression study

Seon Cheol Park, Sang Woo Hahn, Tae Yeon Hwang, Jae Min Kim, Tae Youn Jun, Min-Soo Lee, Jung Bum Kim, Hyeon Woo Yim, Yong Chon Park

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of age at onset of the first major depressive episode on the clinical features of individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) in a large cohort of Korean depressed patients.

Materials and Methods: We recruited 419 MDD patients of age over 18 years from the Clinical Research Center for Depression study in South Korea. At the start of the study, the onset age of the first major depressive episode was self-reported by the subjects. The subjects were divided into four age-at-onset subgroups: childhood and adolescent onset (ages <18), early adult onset (ages 18–44), middle adult onset (ages 45–59), and late onset (ages 60+). Using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) and ordinal logistic regression analysis with adjusting the effect of age, the relationships between clinical features and age at onset of MDD were evaluated.

Results: There was an apparent, but inconsistent correlation between clinical features and age at onset. Earlier onset MDD was significantly associated with higher proportion of female gender [adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=0.570, p=0.022], more previous suicide attempts (AOR=0.635, p=0.038), greater number of previous depressive episodes (F=3.475, p=0.016) and higher scores on the brief psychiatric rating scale (F=3.254, p=0.022), its negative symptom subscale (F=6.082, p<0.0001), and the alcohol use disorder identification test (F=7.061, p<0.0001).

Conclusion: Early age at onset may increase the likelihood of distinguishable MDD subtype, and age at onset of the first major depressive episode is a promising clinical indicator for the clinical presentation, course, and outcome of MDD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1712-1720
Number of pages9
JournalYonsei Medical Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1



  • Age at onset
  • Clinical indicator
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Subtype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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