Home Depression in 23-34 year old, married women
Depression in 23-34 year old, married women

When, in 1982, I moved to the Medical Research Council Social Psychiatry Unit (at the Institute of Psychiatry, in London) I decided to carry out a new, community study in the south London housing estate called Thamesmead. Again, I decided to focus upon women within a restricted age-range, and this time, I selected the range of 25-34. I did so because a number of studies at that time were showing the incidence of depression to be particularly high in women in this age-range and I wanted to discover why. My aim was to study both the women and their husbands and to collect comparable life-history data on both. I worked in collaboration with the general practitioners in the two health centres on the estate. I developed a short, depression screening instrument (DSI) (Birtchnell, Evans, Deahl & Masters, 1989) which the practitioners administered to all the women in this age range who attended their surgeries. The women who scored very high on this instrument were included in the depressed sample and those who scored very low were included in the non-depressed sample. I planned to conduct three interviews, one with the woman, one with her husband and one with the couple together. The first part of the interview with the woman comprised the Present State Examination to obtain a more accurate assessment of her level of depression. The husband was simply asked the questions of the DSI. The measurement of the quality of the marriage was a area of particular interest, and this was derived from each interview separately and from the joint interview. The woman and her husband were also asked to complete, apart from each other, a new pair of questionnaires called the Self-Rating Questionnaire and the Partner-Rating Questionnaire (see Birtchnell, 1988 of the previous section) to measure how they related to each other, which were a forerunner to the Couples Relating to Each Other Questionnaires (see sections on Relating Theory and Measures of Relating and Interrelating ).

As with the 40-49 year-old study (Section 3B) early loss and separation experiences were not significantly related to depression, but poor early and present relationships were (Birtchnell, 1988a). Other life circumstances, including poverty and debt, also played a major part (Birtchnell, 1988b; Birtchnell & Masters, 1989).

Thamesmead had been planned as a new town, but it lacked a town centre. It was built to a revolutionary new design, the main feature of which is that it has many walkways but few roads. The accommodation includes tower blocks, slab-blocks and more conventional houses with small gardens. One study involved a comparison of levels of depression in the different forms of accommodation (Birtchnell, Masters & Deahl, 1988; Masters & Birtchnell, 1989).



Birtchnell, J. (1988a) Depression and family relationships. British Journal of Psychiatry, 153, 758-769.

Birtchnell, J. (1988b) Depression and life circumstances. Social Psychiatry, 23, 240-246.

Birtchnell, J. (1991) Poverty and depression: The nature of the link. British Journal of Clinical and Social Psychiatry, 7, 188-190.

Birtchnell, J., Evans, C., Deahl, M. & Masters, N. (1989) The Depression Screening Instrument (DSI): A device for the detection of depressive disorders in general practice. Journal of Affective Disorders, 16, 269-281.

Birtchnell, J. & Masters, N. (1989) Poverty and depression. The Practitioner, 233, 1141-1146.

Birtchnell, J., Masters, N. & Deahl, M. (1988) Depression and the physical environment. British Journal of Psychiatry, 153, 56-64.

Masters, N. & Birtchnell, J. (1989) Is living in a slab-block depressing? The Practitioner, 233, 664-666.