Correlates of Mothers' Persistent Depressive Symptoms: A National Study

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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence, persistence, and correlates of mothers' depressive symptoms over a 5-year period in a nationally representative sample of the United States population. Method: Data from 2235 mothers in the National Survey of Families and Households, Wave I, 1987-1988, and Wave II, 1992-1994, were analyzed. Outcome measures were scores on the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D, 12-item version) and a validated three-item depression screen. Results: One fifth of study mothers had positive CES-D scores and almost half (48%) had negative CES-D scores in both waves. Wave I risk factors for persistent "positive" CES-D scores were maternal age less than 30 years (24%), African-American (33%), never married (26%) or divorced (32%), education less than high school (35%), and indigent (32%). Adjusted odds ratios (AOR) and 95% confidence intervals for persistent "positive" versus persistent "negative" CES-D scores were: age less than 30 years (Wave I), AOR = 1.64, (1.22-2.21); unmarried (Wave II), AOR = 2.60, (1.89-3.56); education less than high school (Wave II), AOR = 2.18, (1.41-3.38); and indigent (Wave II), AOR = 2.09 (1.36-3.21). Discussion: About one fifth of the study sample reported high depressive symptoms twice over a 5-year period. Depression in women, especially mothers, is an urgent public health problem. © 2006 National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.



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