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Open Access Publications from the University of California

High risk of depression among low-income women raises awareness about treatment options


Depression in young women living in poverty has devastating consequences if left untreated. Low-income women are at a higher risk for depression than other income groups, and the majority of these women are untreated. The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale was used to assess depression symptoms in women under 45 years old in five California counties. More than 45% were identified as depressed, and the highest level of depressive symptoms was found in Sonoma County. We also found a significant negative association between the number of people in the household and depressive symptom scores, that is, with fewer people in the household depression increased. This result may indicate the need for a support system that is more accessible to individuals in smaller households or it may be an artifact of Hispanics having larger families and lower depression scores. Our results indicate that there is a critical need to provide mental health resources to low-income women, especially those with young children.

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