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Major Depressive Disorder


Depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide (WHO, 2017).

      • Incidence of Depression in Europe

The incidence of current depressive disorder in Europe is on average 6.38%, with important variation across countries (Jorge, Arias-de la Torre, et al., 2021).

      • Gender difference in the incidence of depression

Prevalence is substantially higher among women than among men in almost all European countries. In particular, the incidence is 4.89% for men, and 7.74% for women (Jorge, Arias-de la Torre, et al., 2021).

Female depressive patients show greater severity, earlier age of onset, and increased duration of depressive episodes as compared to male patients (LeGates et al., 2019).

      • Etiology and influencing factors

Several factors play a critical role in determining the susceptibility for depression and influence the response to treatments (Silva et al., 2021):

Biological dysfunction

Genetic factors

Psychological characteristics

Personality traits

Environmental stressors.

       • Diagnosis and treatment

Despite the availability of different classes of antidepressant drugs, the success of pharmacological treatment is still unsatisfactory. The efficacyalso differs between the sexes(LeGates et al., 2019).

Advances in molecular psychiatry show extraordinary promise for the development of improved diagnostic approaches and pharmacogenetic tools that may help to personalize drug treatments, and allow more efficient selection of pharmacotherapies tailored to an individual based on unique genetic characteristics (Bradley et al., 2018).

The use of an individual’s molecular and clinical data to personalize treatment promises to transform psychiatry by replacing the standard trial and error approach to pharmacotherapy with more precise and targeted drug selection strategies (McCarthy et al., 2020).


    • Arias-de la Torre, J., Vilagut, G., Ronaldson, A., Serrano-Blanco, A., Martín, V., Peters, M., … & Alonso, J. (2021). Prevalence and variability of current depressive disorder in 27 European countries: a population-based study. The Lancet Public Health6(10), e729-e738.
    • Bradley, P., Shiekh, M., Mehra, V., Vrbicky, K., Layle, S., Olson, M. C., … & Lukowiak, A. A. (2018). Improved efficacy with targeted pharmacogenetic-guided treatment of patients with depression and anxiety: a randomized clinical trial demonstrating clinical utility. Journal of psychiatric research96, 100-107.
    • LeGates, T. A., Kvarta, M. D., & Thompson, S. M. (2019). Sex differences in antidepressant efficacy. Neuropsychopharmacology44(1), 140-154.
    • McCarthy, M. J., Chen, Y., Demodena, A., Fisher, E., Golshan, S., Suppes, T., & Kelsoe, J. R. (2020). Attitudes on pharmacogenetic testing in psychiatric patients with treatment‐resistant depression. Depression and anxiety37(9), 842-850.
    • Silva, R. C., Maffioletti, E., Gennarelli, M., Baune, B. T., & Minelli, A. (2021). Biological correlates of early life stressful events in major depressive disorder. Psychoneuroendocrinology125, 105103.
    • WHO. Depression and other common mental disorders: global health estimates. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2017.