Childhood socioeconomic circumstances and depressive symptom burden across 15 years of follow-up during midlife: Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN)

Joyce T. Bromberger, Laura L. Schott, Karen A. Matthews, Howard M. Kravitz, Siobán D. Harlow, Jennifer Karas Montez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Childhood socioeconomic disadvantage may contribute to adult depression. Understanding pathways by which early socioeconomic adversity may shape adult depression is important for identifying areas for intervention. Studies to date have focused on one potential pathway, adult socioeconomic status (SES), and assessed depression at only one or a few time points. Our aims were to examine (a) the association between childhood SES (low vs. high) and depressive symptom burden in midlife and (b) whether adult socioeconomic, psychosocial, and physical health characteristics are important pathways. Using annual data from a cohort of 1109 black and white US women recruited in 1996–1997, we evaluated the association between childhood SES and depressive symptom burden across 15 years in midlife and whether adult characteristics—financial difficulty, lower education, stressful events, low social support, low role functioning, medical conditions, and bodily pain—mediated the association. Depressive symptom burden was estimated by calculating area under the curve of annual scores across 15 years of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D). In unadjusted models, low childhood SES was associated with greater depressive burden (P = 0.0002). Each hypothesized mediator, individually, did not reduce the association. However, when five of the hypothesized mediators were included together in the same analysis, they explained more than two thirds of the association between childhood SES and depressive symptom burden reducing the P value for childhood SES to non-significance (P = 0.20). These results suggest that childhood SES influences midlife depressive symptom burden through a cluster of economic stress, limited social resources, and physical symptoms in adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-504
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

Keywords

  • Childhood socioeconomic status (SES)
  • Depressive symptom burden
  • Economic stress
  • Longitudinal
  • Midlife women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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