Life events and building aetiological models

The characteristic features of the aetiological studies that have emerged with the development of such instruments can be illustrated by those dealing with life events (and to a lesser extent ongoing difficulties). While the Life Events and Difficulties Schedule is the most detailed and comprehensive instrument, it is only one of a variety that have been utilized. The significance of findings concerning depression is enhanced by the fact that most studies have produced broadly consistent findings about the role of events. ^l22,2 2,25,26 and 27> Indeed, for some years the challenge has been not so much to establish the presence of an effect due to life events, but to learn more about the nature of the events involved and to integrate findings into a more comprehensive aetiological model. (28)

In what follows, four questions concerning life events are discussed.

• Meaning: what makes them so critical?

• Vulnerability: what is the role of other current psychosocial factors?

• Lifespan: do experiences in childhood and adult life contribute to risk?

• A population perspective: what social factors are implicated when differences are found in rates of depression across populations? The role of life events in the aetiology of depression

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