• Depression and Finances: Socioeconomic Status

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    First off, I’d like to thank everyone for their support and warm comments regarding my newly diagnosed depression. I’m still learning much about it and how to effectively treat it, and welcome your stories and comments.

    My psychiatrist gave me a document that outlines depression, from the etiology to risk factors to complications to treatments. It is an interesting and eye-opening read, and is also available on the web. In it, I found an interesting tidbits on depression and social/economic status:

    The role of society and economics has specific implications for women. Being in a low socioeconomic group is a major risk factor for depression in anyone. Money, of course, allows greater access to good medical care, but this factor does not fully explain the higher rates of depression in impoverished people. People at any income level are likely to be depressed if they have poor health and are socially isolated. Some studies suggest that Western cultural attitudes that link income to social status may play a significant role in the connection between poverty and depression:

    • In one British study, actual poverty or unemployment increased the duration of any existing depression, but it did not appear to play any important causal role. Feelings of financial insecurity, however, both caused and prolonged depression.
    • Another study reported that Mexican adults who immigrated to America had half the psychiatric illnesses as did Mexican-Americans born in the U.S., regardless of their income. But the longer the immigrants lived in the U.S., the greater their risk for psychiatric problems. Traditional influences of Mexican culture and social ties appeared to protect newly arrived immigrants from mental illness, even when they were poor. Eventually, however, the consequences of Americanization added to poverty and led to feelings of alienation and inferiority.

    It is indeed interesting how finances and social/economic status contributes to mood. When Her realized that she was on the path to financial hell, she suffered from anxiety and loss of sleep. Since we’ve managed to clean up our financial act, she sleeps much more soundly.

    Her and I have seen how finances affects our moods both ways: Our finances have affected our mood, and our moods have affected our finances. Hopefully we will be able to get all of this in check.

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