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Financial Strain Is Major Cause Of Psychiatric Illness

July 10, 1998

(Poverty, unemployment and common mental disorders: population based cohort study)

The prevalence of the most common mental disorders, anxiety and depression, has been shown to be consistently associated with unemployment and poverty, independent of occupational social class. In this week's BMJ Dr Scott Weich from the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine and Professor Glyn Lewis from the University of Wales reveal their findings in a study of mental disorders among 7726 adults in England, Wales and Scotland.

The authors found that even though unemployment and poverty were associated with the maintenance of episodes of the most common mental disorders they were not in fact responsible for their onset. They discovered that financial strain was a powerful predictor of both the onset and maintenance of cases of mental disorders, even after taking account of different standards of living.

Weich and Lewis conclude that further research is needed to better understand the impact on mental health of financial strain and unemployment.

Contact:
Dr Scott Weich, Senior Lecturer, University Department of Psychiatry, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London
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BMJ

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