AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Mexican Americans exhibit relatively low rates of major depression. Mexican Americans in the Los Angeles sample of the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study (Burnam et al., 1987; Karno et al., 1987), for example, had half the rate of non-Hispanic Whites (i.e., 4.9% versus 8.4%). Major depression is also less common among Mexican Americans living in the Central Valley of California than among Americans in general (Vega et al., 1998). It is, moreover, unlikely that pathology is being displaced from depression to other mental illnesses given that Mexican Americans have lower rates of all major diagnoses than samples of Americans as a whole (Vega et al., 1998).
One explanation for these low rates is that Mexican Americans cope more effectively than others in the community with the acute stressors of contemporary life (Dohrenwend and Dohrenwend, 1974). Among the most widely experienced acute stressors are those inflicted by the economy. Joh loss, for example, is a stressor that has been associated with depression in samples of the U.S. population (Catalano, 1991; Dooley, Catalano, and Wilson, 1994).
The literature connecting job loss to symptoms of depression is extensive. It includes cross-sectional studies that uniformly report higher levels of depression among those who want to work but are not working. This literature includes case-control designs (Hall and Johnson, 1988; Melville et al., 1985; Roy, 1987) as well as those based on community samples and statistical controls (Dressler, 1986; Weisman et al., 1991). The weakness in this work is reverse causation or the possibility that depression and comorbid conditions cause job loss.
Attempts to control reverse causation through retrospective designs in which the timing of job loss and the onset of symptoms are recalled support the findings of the cross-sectional designs. Kessler, Turner, and House (1988), for example, used this design and reported higher levels of depressed mood among persons who lost jobs. Eales (1988) also used recall among surveyed persons and found that symptoms of depression were more common among those who had lost jobs than among those who had not.
Another type of study concerning depressed mood follows depressed persons who have lost jobs to determine whether labor market experiences affect the course of the illness (e.g., Bolton and Oatley, 1987). These studies have reported that reemployment is associated with reduced depression and at least one (Kessler, Turner, and House, 1989) provides empirical evidence that the effect is not due to reduced depression preceding reemployment.
Dew, Bromet, and Penkower (1992) used data from a prospective panel study to assess the effects of layoffs on symptoms of depression among a small group of women. Findings were that job loss was associated with elevated symptoms and that symptoms increased with length of unemployment.
A prospective study (Viinamaki, Koskela, and Niskanen, 1993) with controls reports that job losers are at elevated risk of depression. The research was conducted in Finland where mental health services are universally available and unemployment compensation programs are generous.
The typical finding of increased depression among job losers was reinforced by a study based on data from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Study. The ECA project, conducted in the mid-1980s, was the most ambitious panel study of the prevalence of psychological disorder in the United States. Survey data were collected in Baltimore, Los Angeles, New Haven, Raleigh-Durham, and St. Louis. Researchers at each site used similar survey designs and identical "core" questions to assess the prevalence and incidence of specific mental disorders, use of health services, and socioeconomic and demographic factors. A minimum of three thousand adult community residents at each site were given two face-to-face interviews at a one-year interval (Eaton and Kessler, 1985; Robins and Regier, 1991).
The principal instrument of the ECA project was the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS), which yields diagnoses for a large range of major mental disorders defined by the clinical community (Robins and Regier, 1991). The DIS is a highly …