APH 2003, 61, 223-247:

Complaints of depression in a representative sample of Belgian population.

P. Bracke, N. Wauterickx

Keywords: Belgium, demographic factors, depression

Research about feelings of depression of the Belgian population is scarce. However, PSBH-data (Panel Study of Belgian Households), collected in 1998, made it possible to explore the link between depression and social indicators for 7021 individuals aged 16 years and older. The measure of depression used for this purpose is a self-report scale derived from the Health and Daily Living Form.

The Belgian results reveal the existence of specific risk groups when region of residence and socio-demographic characteristics like sex, age, marital status, educational attainment, work status, work category and economic security are considered. In general, women once again report higher depression scores than men, especially in the Walloon part of Belgium. For age, there seems to be a drop in depression from younger to older age categories. Another conclusion is that men with hierarchic higher placed professions have less complaints about feelings of depression and anxiety. Considering the marital status, divorced/separated men and women report more depression but divorced/separated women with paid work dominate this category. A last and surprising result was the high amount of complaints of depression among students.

As a conclusion, one might posit that students together with isolated men, unemployed individuals and divorced/separated women are specific population subsamples which have to be sighted on to avoid that psychological problems like depression would dominate the clinical picture in Belgium and especially in Wallonia.