At any one time between 2-5% of the population are suffering from depression and between 10-20% of people will suffer from it during the course of their life. Depression is more common among those with a poorer standard of living, independent of occupational social class, and unemployment is also a strong risk factor. Some researchers have suggested that perceived financial strain - the ability to meet one's commitments and one's level of indebtedness - is more important than unemployment and poverty per se. A study of 5,237 young women in Southampton, over two years, found that among those developing depression there was a higher proportion receiving benefits and a higher level of perceived financial strain. There were also modest rises in perceived stress and poorer levels of educational attainment. Women who were not depressed at the start of the study but who were receiving benefits had a 1.61x higher risk of developing depression. The risk associated with perceived financial strain did not remain statistically significant after adjustments were made for receipt of benefits, educational qualifications and perceived stress. In other words it was unemployment and/or poverty that was the most crucial factor in whether people developed depression not their perception of financial strain.
Dunn, Nick ... [et al] - Does perceived financial strain predict depression among young women? Longitudinal findings from the Southampton Women's Survey Mental Health in Family Medicine 2008, 5(1), 15-21