Objectives: To examine the public health burden of major depressive disorder (MDD) among mothers: its prevalence and sociodemographic patterns; associated functioning, comorbidities, and adversities; and racial/ethnic disparities.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional analysis of 8916 mothers in the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions, a nationally representative survey of the civilian U.S. population in 2001?2002. Past-year MDD was assessed with a structured interview protocol.
Results: Ten percent of mothers experienced depression in the past year. White and Native American women, those with low education or income, and those not married had high rates of depression. Depression was not strongly patterned by number of or age of children. Depressed mothers experienced more adversities (poverty, separation or divorce, unemployment, financial difficulties) and had worse functioning. Half of depressed mothers received services for their depression. Black and Hispanic depressed mothers were more likely to experience multiple adversities and less likely to receive services than white depressed mothers.
Conclusions: Maternal depression is a major public health problem in the United States, with an estimated 1 in 10 children experiencing a depressed mother in any given year. Professionals who work with mothers and children should be aware of its prevalence and its detrimental effects.