Social Class May Affect Outcome of Depression Treatment

FRIDAY Nov. 12, 2010 -- Depression treatments appear to be less effective in helping poor and working class patients function at work, a new study finds.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago said this was especially important because depression takes a heavy toll on productivity, particularly among those in sales and service jobs, who often have less education and belong to the working class.

Researchers reviewed the cases of 239 patients with major depression who took part in the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program from 1982 to 1986.

The patients took antidepressants or received one of two different kinds of psychotherapy: interpersonal psychotherapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy. After treatment with drugs or psychotherapy, working-class and poor patients showed less improvement in their ability to function at work than did middle-class patients who had the same treatments, the University of Illinois researchers found.

The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Psychiatric Services.

Future research should examine how to change depression treatments so that working-class and poor patients get the same degree of benefit as middle-class patients, said principal investigator Lydia Falconnier, an assistant professor in UIC's College of Social Work.

"One route to improved outcomes might be to adapt current therapies to include a greater focus on the daily work and economic stressors that low-income individuals face," she said in a university news release.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about depression.

Posted: November 2010


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