What is it about?

The study estimated the prevalence of self-diagnosed depression in a general population sample in Norway. In addition, factors associated with self-diagnosed depression were explored.

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Why is it important?

Depression is common and frequently chronic, and it is associated with substantial costs for individuals as well as for society. To support best practice for depression, knowledge concerned with its prevalence and associated factors is important.


The one-month prevalence of self-diagnosed depression was 8.1 %, and was higher for women than for men. We also found that neuroticism increased the risk of being depressed, indicating that one important working mechanism behind the gender-depression association can be neuroticism: Women tend to be more depressed compared to men because they are more prone to have higher levels of neuroticism, which in turn makes people more vulnerable to depression. Further, higher levels of psychological resources, namely optimism and general self-efficacy, reduced the risk of depression. Due to the cross-sectional study design, it is unclear whether these factors in fact protect against depression, or whether depression rather makes a person more pessimistic and less confident in oneself. Finally, higher age and - in particular - having employment reduced the probability of identifying as depressed. In spite of frequently increasing physical health problems throughout the later stages of life, higher age may also indicate an increased capacity for reconciling with the changing opportunities and challenges in life. Such a capacity for reconciliation may serve as a buffer against self-diagnosed depression. On the other hand, employment provides the person with income, social relationships, and an arena to engage in meaningful activities within a time-organized and collegial structure. Unemployment may leave the person bereft of these elements, such that the result that employment reduces the risk of depression appears to be logical and in line with prior research.

Professor Tore Bonsaksen
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Self-diagnosed depression in the Norwegian general population – associations with neuroticism, extraversion, optimism, and general self-efficacy, BMC Public Health, August 2018, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1186/s12889-018-5990-8.
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