Income Level Predicts Response to Depression Treatment

Now it is official, after all: Money does
definitely make you happy

Research has shown that people with lower socioeconomic status (SES) are more likely to develop a depressive illness and that their depression is more severe than that of people higher on the SES scale. Several studies have hypothesised that socioeconomic factors, including income and education, would also affect how people respond to medications and other therapies for depression, but have ultimately proved inconclusive, according to background information in the article.

Alex Cohen, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues reanalysed two previous clinical trials. The 248 participants were all 59 years or older and receiving antidepressant medications combined with psychotherapy. Low-income was defined as less than $25,000, middle-income between $25,000 and $50,000 and high-income more than $50,000. The subjects’ depressive symptoms and response to treatment were measured weekly.

When the authors controlled for demographic factors, such as age and gender, and baseline clinical characteristics, including recurrence of depression and age at onset, they found that people in areas defined as middle-income were significantly more likely to respond to treatment than those in the low-income group.

In addition, people in low-income areas were about twice as likely as those in middle-income areas and two and a half times as likely as those in high-income tracts to be suicidal, “suggesting an inverse relationship between the median household income of the neighbourhoods in which subjects resided and suicidality,” the authors write.; Source: American Medical Association (AMA)