Longitudinal relations between employment and depressive symptoms in low-income, suicidal African American women

J Clin Psychol. 2007 Jun;63(6):541-53. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20365.


Unemployment and depression are problematic at both individual and societal levels, and research suggests that the two phenomena are related. More thorough and longitudinal analyses, particularly ones within low-income minority populations, are needed to guide the development of programs to increase employment in persons with mental health problems. The current study aimed to specify the relations over time between depressive symptoms and employment status within a sample of 46 low-income African American women participating in an intervention study for intimate partner violence and suicidal behavior. Hierarchical logistic regression analysis indicated that baseline levels of depressive symptoms predicted employment status at the end of a 10-week intervention period, controlling for baseline employment status. Chi-square analysis and qualitative analyses of trends in depression scores showed that changes in employment status during the 10-week intervention period predicted 6-month and one-year follow-up levels of depressive symptoms. Results imply that, for women in the currently sampled population, depressive symptoms create vulnerability for job loss, but the ability to gain employment despite high levels of depressive symptoms is linked to lowered depression levels over the long term. Community programs assisting such women could therefore not just lower the vulnerability to job loss by treating depressive symptoms, but they could potentially lower long-term depression levels through interventions that enhance employability and motivation to pursue work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black People / psychology*
  • Depression / ethnology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Spouse Abuse / ethnology
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / ethnology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Unemployment / psychology
  • United States