• life events;
  • depression;
  • stress

Objective:  To summarize research in life events and affective disorders

Method:  Review of the literature.

Results and conclusion:  Many studies have shown that episodes of unipolar depression are preceded by life events at higher rates than in control samples. A variety of stressful events are involved with only limited specificity but some relationship to social exit events. Life events also affect remission and relapse of depression. Effects of life events are less when the disorder has already been recurrent, particularly where illness is severe. Effects of life events are also weaker in bipolar disorder than unipolar, but major life events may be important in first onset. Recent evidence suggests a specific role of social rhythm disruption events in manic relapses. Causative chains are multifactorial and complex, and genetic factors can influence life event exposure.