DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows
Take One Step: A PBS Health Campaign
DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows + TAKE ONE STEP: Caring for Depression, with Jane Pauley  

Ask an Expert: The Causes of Depression
< Ask an Expert: All Topics

Windows Media PlayerHigh|Low
QuickTime border=High|Low

Read Dr. Charles Nemeroff's bio >

Learn more about the causes of depression:

Depression Fact Sheet: English version (PDF, 748k); Spanish version (PDF, 796k)
National Alliance on Mental Illness:
American Psychiatric Association:


Why is the age of onset (the first depressive episode) dropping?

DR. CHARLES NEMEROFF: So whether or not the rate of depression is increasing might be a matter of debate. What isn't a debate is the age of onset of depression is clearly dropping, so that thirty years ago, the average person had their first depressive episode in their late forties or early fifties. The average age of onset right now in The United States is 24 years of age. And you know what? We don't know why that is.

There are a lot of theories about it. They relate to increased levels of stress, the sort of 24/7 society we live in, more concerns about terrorism, more concerns about global warming, and more concerns about just the family structure, concerns that the nuclear family isn't really there to provide support. We know that social support is a tremendous buffer against these stressors. So it's probably a combination of factors.

More Topics

Suicide | Depression in Youth | Depression in Elders | Depression in the World | Depression Treatment

Back to Top