Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Social Support Does Little to Buffer Effects of Poverty on Depressive Symptoms, Study Finds

Poverty remains a factor linked to depression for mothers, even for those who have established good social and personal supports. A study of nearly 2,000 mothers of young children in Chicago found that depressive symptoms were strongly associated with lower household income, higher degree of financial strain (difficulty obtaining and paying for food, rent, or medical care), and lower neighborhood socioeconomic status, wrote Sharon Kingston, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Dickinson College in the October American Journal of Community Psychology.

Married women had fewer depressive symptoms than single mothers, but being married did not affect the link between economic adversity and depression.

“Perceived social support decreased depressive symptoms for residents living in all neighborhoods, but the effects of social support were weakest in neighborhoods characterized by low socioeconomic status,” said Kingston. “[T]he results suggest that directly addressing economic conditions may be more effective than efforts to change parents’ interpersonal context.”

For more information about the relationship between mental health and poverty and other social determinants, see the Psychiatric News articles, "Psychiatrist Exposes How Public Policies Have Devastated Health of Communities" and "Antipoverty Experiment Boosts Subjective Well-Being." Also see the reports "The Hotel Study: Multimorbidity in a Community Sample Living in Marginal Housing" in the American Journal of Psychiatry and "Comparing Neighborhoods of Adults With Serious Mental Illness and of the General Population: Research Implications" in Psychiatric Services.

(Image: Piotr Marcinski/


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