Purpose of review: The present review focuses on recent findings about the relation between neighborhood sociodemographic characteristics and depressive symptoms with particular attention paid to methodologic issues including application of theory, study design, and trajectories of depression.
Recent findings: The majority of recent studies found that deprivation, residential segregation, and residential instability were associated with increased depressive symptoms or depression independent of individual level characteristics, whereas a minority of studies suggested that individual level characteristics explained away the association between neighborhood level factors and depression. Of note was an increased application of longitudinal designs compared with previous studies.
Summary: Current research suggests that findings regarding the association between neighborhood sociodemographic characteristics and depressive symptoms remain unclear. We recommend a more rigorous approach to empirically test the theories that may explain the relation between neighborhood conditions and depression. Such an approach will highlight which neighborhood characteristics are important to consider analytically and the ways in which they are associated with depression. We may also learn whether contradictory findings reflect population differences or whether they are a result of measurement and statistical issues.