APH 2004, 62, 271 - 290 :

The social distribution of depression in Belgium: A comparison of the Belgian Health Interview Survey 2001 and the Panel Study of Belgian Households.

K. Levecque

Keywords: Belgium, depression, population, risk factors

Although depression is considered the most common mental disorder, knowledge on its social distribution in the general population in Belgium is still limited. In this paper focus is on risk factors for depression in two representative samples of adults in Belgium, aged 16 or more. In the cross-sectional Health Interview Survey of 2001 (N=9413), the Symptom Checklist 90 depression scale is used to measure depressive experiences in the week prior to the interview. In the longitudinal Panel Study of Belgian Households (N in wave 1=8741), depressive symptoms experienced in the past three months are assessed using the Health & Daily Living Form – Global Depression Scale. Risk factors considered are gender, age, household type, urbanization, educational level, labour market position, home-ownership and income poverty. Logistic regression results show the general risk factor pattern for severe depressive experiences to be quasi similar in both surveys: higher prevalence rates are found for women, singles (with or without children), the lower educated, the unemployed, sick/disabled individuals, renters and income poor. There was no association with urbanization. Concerning age, no association was found in the Health Interview Survey, while elderly adults
in the panel were less likely to report depressive symptoms. The quasi similar risk pattern found in both surveys shows that severe depressive complaints, experienced in several different forms, are distributed unequally among social groups in the general adult population in Belgium.