Mental Health Conditions Prevalent in Young Women

Many not clinically diagnosed or treated, especially nonwhite, employed women

THURSDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Depression or other serious psychological distress (SPD) is present in a substantial proportion of women of reproductive age, and a large proportion of these women go untreated, according to research published in the December issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Sherry L. Farr, Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues used 2006 to 2007 national data to assess the prevalence of depression and SPD among nonpregnant women aged 18 to 44 years. The purpose of the study was to determine predictors of depression and SPD and characteristics associated with diagnosis and treatment.

The researchers found that current depression was present in more than 14 percent of women, and current SPD was present in 2.7 percent. Older age, less education, being unmarried, inability to work or being unemployed, and low income were all risk factors for major depression and SPD. Women who were depressed were less likely to have a clinically made diagnosis if they were 18 to 24, nonwhite, had children, lived in an urban area, or were employed. Among those with SPD, Hispanic women, employed women, and those without health insurance had lower odds of receiving treatment.

"This report illustrates the substantial burden of depression and SPD among U.S. women of reproductive age and highlights the need for mental health services," the authors write.

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