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Unemployment and Depression Among Emerging Adults in 12 States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2010
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    Introduction

    The high rate of unemployment among emerging adults (aged 18 to 25 years) is a public health concern. The risk of depression is higher among the unemployed than among the employed, but little is known about the relationship between unemployment and mental health among emerging adults. This secondary data analysis assessed the relationship between unemployment and depression among emerging adults.

    Methods

    Data from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) were analyzed. Responses to the Patient Health Questionnaire-8 provided data about the prevalence of depression. Bivariate relationships were assessed using χ2 tests, and multivariable adjusted odds ratios were calculated with logistic regressions. Sociodemographic variables were sex, race/ethnicity, marital status, and education. In addition, logistic regression models adjusted for health insurance status, disability, smoking, and body mass index. The analyses were completed using SAS 9.3 survey procedures to account for the complex sampling design.

    Results

    Almost 12% of emerging adults were depressed (PHQ-8 ≥10) and about 23% were unemployed. Significantly more unemployed than employed emerging adults were classified with depression. In the final model, the odds of depression were about 3 times higher for unemployed than employed emerging adults.

    Conclusion

    The relationship between unemployment and depression is significant among emerging adults. With high rates of unemployment for this age group, this population may benefit from employment- and mental-health–focused interventions.

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