depression and poverty

(this is another reprint from my old blog)

an article on depression and poverty

Low-income people with depression are less likely to respond to treatment and more likely to be suicidal than those who have higher incomes, according to a study in the January issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. Socioeconomic factors, including income, education and occupation, have long been linked to health status, illness and death. Research has shown that people with lower socioeconomic status (SES) are more likely to develop a depressive illness and that their depression is more severe than that of people higher on the SES scale. Several studies have hypothesized that socioeconomic factors, including income and education, would also affect how people respond to medications and other therapies for depression, but have ultimately proved inconclusive, according to background information in the article.

… and my response to it:

It is laudable that Harvard has taken up the research on the connection between poverty and depression. Not having read the full article, I don’t know into how much detail the authors go regarding this connection.

However, as someone who has worked with very low income populations, I would suggest that some of the connections are quite obvious and should be checked out. Let me just cite a few.

Poverty affects people’s lives on all levels; “bumping” into the issue of lack of money is incredibly stressful and grinds people down.

People with disabilities are more likely to be poor and more likely to suffer from depression.

Lastly, we live in a culture where success is measured by how much we earn. People with low income are automatically assumed to be unsuccessful. This impacts their self esteem. These are just a few examples. And they are examples of situations that tend to create or exacerbate depression in addition to other causes of depression (chemical imbalances, tiggers such as loss of a loved one, PTSD, etc.)

what do you think?

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver


  1. It depends on the individual and if they were raised in poverty or became poor. For example I was raised in a wealthy suburb of NYC and then in my adult life spent about 4 years in TJ Mexico ( a good deal of extreme poverty). There is no doubt in my mind that the stress of poverty if you were not poor and became poor can cause a great deal of distress and triger depression.

  2. The above response fromKevin is ridiculous. Bottom line is that when you are poor you dont have what you need, which causes severe stress and depression despite whether you were raised in poverty or not. It sucks to be poor, especially in the good old United States where so many prosper and thrive while so many are in hopeless debt and poverty. I know because I suffer from severe stress and depression and suicidal thoughts due to being so poor and the future looks hopeless and I am an intelligent, multi-talented, college educated woman stuck in a poverty stricken hell hole that I cant get out of, after spending my 20’s and early 30’s working jobs that pay minimum wage or below (by the way if you can only afford to pay your workers minimum wage and thats it and no insurance or benefits you should be ashamed, you know exactly what you are doing and who you are taking advantage of and how many lives you are damaging). There is a general attitude among those in middle class or above, and its to feather their own nests and forget about the rest. Being poor is not something to be ashamed of though, especially if its all you have ever known and you are doing your best to get out of it in a land of little opportunity though we claim that this is THE land of opportunity, apparently that is only true for some people here, certainly not for everyone and certainly not for those truly born into poverty. Good grades in school can only go so far. You need a streak of luck and if you are dealt a bad hand in life, as I have consistently my whole life, well you’re just screwed and thats it and nobody gives a crap. Trust me, call me negative if you like, but whatever you do you have to believe me on this one. I am speaking from experience.

  3. Being a self-employed attorney who has lived through a few years of litte income and went thorugh a psychiatric hosplitalization for depression triggered by suicidal thoughts (luckily a thoughtful part of my brain still funcitoning at that point told me to stop an attempted suicide and to seek emergency help) and related alchohol abuse followed within the next year by a divorce (found out my new ex= wife was cheating on me with multiple men over several years after leaving the psych ward), bankruptcy, and foreclsoure (the “trifecta of strees”), I can relate to all the above comments. Poverty can trigger alot of bad things in life, but psychological depression tends to keep people poor – once you give up on life very few people want you as an employee, friend, etc….. It is a vicious circle if we allow to come that. Alot of folks who have defined themselves in the last generation of Americans always expecting good things economically and easy credit are now in their first real crisis – this generation, hopefully the children and young adults of this generation, like those who survived the 1930’s will relaize that the material world is only a portion of life – the only thing that real matters is an ability to love life despite all the hassles it presents everyday. I personall found, overtime, peace through AA and the 12 step program it teaches (it frankly can be applied to most obstacles in life) and renewing my relationship with God (although I admit the Welbutrin has helped as well).

    I just wish all those who find themselves severely depresses start getting help – it is ultimately a disease that isolates and insidiously destorys people from within whether one is rich or poor.

    As a plaintiff’s lawyer I have found that some of my happiest clients are those that live below the poverty line but are much more willing to live day by day then those wealthier follks who have lost their souls and internal happniness chasing the “American dream” of the overpriced home, car, and other matieral things. There is no right solution for anyone, but

  4. Pingback: re regaine

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.