Duration of unemployment and depression: a cross-sectional survey in Lithuania

Stankunas, Mindaugas; Kalediene, Ramune; Starkuviene, Skirmante; Kapustinskiene, Violeta
January 2006
BMC Public Health;2006, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p174
Academic Journal
Background: In spite of a growing economy, unemployment is still a severe socio-economic problem in Lithuania. Nonetheless, no studies have been performed about the associations between unemployment and mental health in Lithuania. The aim of this study was to evaluate the associations between unemployment duration and depression in Lithuania. Methods: The data was collected in a cross-sectional study in 2005. There were 429 filled-in questionnaires received (53.6% response rate) from unemployed persons registered with the Kaunas Labour Market Office. The severity of depression symptoms was evaluated using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Logistic regression was used to estimate the risk factors for occurrence of depression. Sex, age, place of residence, marital status, education, income and practiced religion were the independent variables. Long-term unemployment was defined as lasting a duration of 12 months or more. Results: The findings showed that long-term unemployed persons had more episodes of a depressive mood in the past 12 months in comparison with the group of the short-term unemployed. In addition, the BDI score mean was higher among the long-term unemployed compared with the short-term unemployed (10.1 ± 8.8 and 14.2 ± 9.5 respectively, p < 0.001). It was estimated that the duration of unemployment and BDI score had a positive correlation (r = 0.1968, p < 0.001). Among the short-term unemployed, the risk of depression increased significantly when the person was female, had an older age and had experienced more episodes of unemployment. Among the long-term unemployed, an older age was the risk factor for development of depression. However, higher education and income were the factors that significantly decreased the risk of developing depression for-short term as well as for long-term unemployed. Conclusion: The results indicated that depression is a severe problem in the unemployed population. Depression is more elevated among the long-term unemployed. This leads to arguing for common efforts in providing needed social support and health care to reduce the effects of unemployment on mental health.


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