Trends in depression among low-income mothers in the United States, 2005–2015

Sehun Oh, Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Michael G. Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Prior research has examined the association between low-income status and maternal depression; however, important questions remain in terms of trends in the prevalence of major depressive episodes (MDE) and treatment seeking among mothers in the United States. The objective of the present study is to examine trends in MDE among low-income mothers and explore perceived barriers to mental health treatment seeking. Methods: Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH; 2005–2015), we examined the prevalence of past-year MDE among mothers living in poverty (0–99% federal poverty line [FPL]; n = 23,264) and near-poverty (100–200% FPL; n = 21,655). Consistent with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, we conducted survey-adjusted logistic regression analyses to examine the significance of survey year in relation to MDE while controlling for key social demographic correlates. Results: The overall decreasing MDE trend was found only among mothers in near-poverty, not mothers in poverty. Only for mothers in poverty, financial (AOR = 0.70, 95% CI = 0.52–0.95) and information barriers (AOR = 0.53, 95% CI = 0.39–0.73) were associated with mental health service use. Limitations: Self-reports of depressive symptoms and service receipt may have led to over or underreporting due to recall or social desirability bias. Additionally, NSDUH data are cross-sectional and thereby limit our ability to make causal inferences. Conclusions: Greater attention should be paid to the prevention/treatment of depression among mothers in poverty. Efforts may include expanding financial assistance for mental health service use and educational campaigns to increase awareness of services available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-75
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of affective disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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