The Link Between Recession and Major Depression | Loyola Medicine
Friday, April 24, 2015

Loyola researchers find link between recent recession and major depression

MAYWOOD, Ill. – 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 percent during the years 2005-2006 to 3.49 percent in 2009-2010 to 3.79 percent 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 percent in 2005-2006 to 4.79 percent in 2009-2010, but then declined to 3.68 percent in 2011-2012.

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

The study was a collaboration among Loyola researchers in the Department of Public Health Sciences and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences

Prevalence of both major and less severe depression was highest among adults who were living in poverty or had less than a high school education. “The mental health of these vulnerable populations may be most affected during time periods of economic distress, but more research is needed,” researchers wrote.

It’s plausible, researchers concluded, that the Great Recession’s negative effects on employment, housing security and stock investments contributed to the sustained increase in major depression. However, they noted it is possible other factors could have played a role.

“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,” researchers wrote.

The Great Recession officially began in December, 2007, and lasted for 18 months. But the effects of the recession, including high unemployment and home foreclosures and reduced consumer confidence, remained high even after the recession officially ended in June, 2009. During the past decade, more than 8 million jobs were lost and about 3 million homes were foreclosed.

Researchers analyzed data from 24,182 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey during the years 2005 to 2012. Respondents were judged to be depressed depending on their answers to a depression questionnaire. The questionnaire asked about such depression criteria as depressed mood or irritability; decreased interest or pleasure in most activities; feelings of worthlessness or guilt; thoughts of suicide; and fatigue or loss of energy.

Senior author of the study is Murali Rao, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Co-authors are Kaushal Mehta, MD, MPH (first author); Holly Kramer, MD, MPH, (corresponding author); Ramon Durazo-Arvizu, PhD; Guichan Cao, MS; and Liping Tong, PhD.

The study is available at http://www.psychiatrist.com/jcp/article/Pages/2015/v76n04/v76n0415.aspx.

 

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.