Depressive Symptoms as a Nonspecific, Graded Risk for Psychiatric Diagnoses

Alan B. Zonderman, Jeffrey H. Herbst, Chester Schmidt, Paul T. Costa, Robert R. McCrae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Using data from a 16-year follow-up of a nationally representative sample of 6,913 adults, measures of depressive symptoms were used to predict psychiatric diagnoses taken from hospitalization records. In proportional hazards analyses, two measures of depression were significantly associated with subsequent diagnoses of depression and other psychiatric disorders after statistical control for demographic variables and previous history of psychological problems. Depressive symptoms predicted late as well as early occurrence of psychiatric diagnoses and showed a pattern of increasing risk with increasing scores, even below clinical cutoffs. This pattern of results is consistent with the view that depressive symptoms predict future psychiatric disorders largely because they serve as proxy measures of some chronic vulnerability, such as the normal personality dimension of neuroticism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-552
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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