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BACKGROUND: The relationship between age at onset (AAO) and major depression (MD) has been studied in US, European and Chinese populations. However, larger sample studies are needed to replicate and extend earlier findings. METHODS: We re-examined the relationship between AAO and the clinical features of recurrent MD in Han Chinese women by analyzing the phase I (N=1848), phase II (N=4169) and total combined data (N=6017) from the CONVERGE project. Linear, logistic, multiple linear and multinomial logistic regression models were used to determine the association of AAO with continuous, binary and categorical variables. RESULTS: The effect size of the association between AAO and clinical features of MD was quite similar in the phase I and phase II samples. These results confirmed that MD patients with earlier AAO tended to suffer more severe, recurrent and chronic illness and cases of MD with earlier AAO showed increased neuroticism, greater family history and psychiatric comorbidity. In addition, we showed that earlier AAO of MD in Han Chinese women was associated with premenstrual symptoms, postnatal depression, a highly authoritarian or cold childhood parental rearing style and a reduced probability for having melancholia. LIMITATIONS: Data were collected retrospectively through interview and recall bias may have affected the results. CONCLUSIONS: MD with earlier AAO in Han Chinese women shows a distinct set of clinical features which are similar to those reported in Western populations.

Original publication




Journal article


J Affect Disord

Publication Date





72 - 79


Age at onset, Comorbidity, Family history, Major depression, Postnatal depression, Premenstrual symptom, Adult, Age of Onset, Anxiety Disorders, Asian Continental Ancestry Group, Child, Child Rearing, China, Comorbidity, Depression, Postpartum, Depressive Disorder, Depressive Disorder, Major, Female, Humans, Logistic Models, Middle Aged, Premenstrual Syndrome, Recurrence, Retrospective Studies, Smoking