Science and Tech


Unemployment Might Triple Young Americans' Depression Rate

Unemployed Americans ages 18-25 were more than three times as likely to be depressed than their working counterparts, according to a new study.
Posted at 4:26 PM, Mar 20, 2015

We all know being unemployed can cause an increase in stress, but new data says it can also have a profound effect on mental health in younger people.

The research, stemming from a 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, found that unemployed Americans aged 18-25 were more than three times as likely to be depressed as their working counterparts.

According to the study, "The high rate of unemployment among emerging adults is a public health problem. ... The association between poor health outcomes, including mental health, and unemployment warrants attention from individuals, families, and policy makers."

To reach their findings, Emory University researchers looked at eight questions regarding anxiety and depression from that CDC survey.

They found that nearly 23 percent of young Americans were unemployed and almost 12 percent were depressed.

They placed some of the blame for depression amongst the jobless on "uncertainty related to the transition to adulthood and changes in social relationships and support structures." (Video via KNSD)

But they also found not everyone within the 18-25 age group showed the same risk for mental health issues.

For example, women — and interestingly, those without health insurance and smokers — only showed about two times the likelihood of depression compared to their employed peers.

What the data doesn't show is which came first — the depression or the unemployment. It can be a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation.

As the Los Angeles Times explains, "Research like this is tricky, since depression can be both a cause and a consequence of unemployment. Complicating matters further, there are things that can make people depressed and make it more difficult for them to find steady work, such as having a disability."

The data was gathered from 12 states as part of the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The study was published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

This video includes images from Mike Hoff / CC BY NC 2.0, United Nations Developmental Program in Europe and CIS / CC BY NC SA 2.0, Ryan Melaugh / CC BY 2.0, Sascha Kohlmann / CC BY SA 2.0, Roman Pavyluk / CC BY 2.0 and Phanlinn Ooi / CC BY 2.0.