Rise in Depression Seen During Great Recession

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The recent Great Recession coincided with a significant increase in the prevalence of major depression, with the greatest impact in adults who were living in poverty or who had less than a high school education.

Researchers at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine analyzed data from more than 24,000 adults who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2012. The questionnaire asked about depressed mood or irritability, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and thoughts of suicide.

The rate of major depression increased to 3.49% in 2009-2010, up from 2.33% in 2005-6, the researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. And the level of less-severe depression increased from 4.1% in 2005-6 to 4.79% in 2009-2010, though it then dropped down to 3.68% in 2011-12.

The Great Recession officially began in December 2007 and lasted until June 2009, though its effects, such as high unemployment and foreclosures, lasted well after its official end.

The researchers concluded that while the recession’s effects on employment, housing security, and the stock market likely contributed to the sustained increase in major depression, other factors may also have been in play.

“The impact of the economic downturn on depression prevalence should be considered when formulating future policies and programs to promote and maintain the health of the U.S. population,” the researchers wrote.

Rise in Depression Seen During Great Recession
Rise in Depression Seen During Great Recession

The recent Great Recession was accompanied by a significant and sustained increase in major depression in U.S. adults, according to a Loyola study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Prevalence of major depression increased from 2.33% during the years 2005-2006 to 3.49% in 2009-2010 to 3.79% in 2011-2012, according to the study by Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine researchers.

Prevalence of less-severe depression increased from 4.1% in 2005-2006 to 4.79% in 2009-2010, but then declined to 3.68% in 2011-2012.

The study is the first to evaluate the population-wide impact of the Great Recession on mental health.

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