Income Inequality & Depression


Research from Harvard finds that living in states with higher income inequality makes people, especially women, more susceptible to major depression.  The study drew on data regarding 34,653  respondents to the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

Abstract →

Pabayo, R., Kawachi, I., Gilman, S; Income inequality among American states and the incidence of major depression. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Online September 24, 2013. doi:10.1136/jech-2013-203093

Of further interest:
Income inequality is linked to depression, study finds (LA Times)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Depression? LMAO.

    I get my monthly disability allowance this week and it’s a real chore to pick and choose among all my needs and wants. Not possible to manage $500 per month. If the state didn’t “sunset” the Renter’s Rebate program this year I would have a much needed additional $440 in my wallet this month. That makes TWO programs that the state cut for people like me (energy assistance and renter’s rebate). Four hundred in the spring, four hundred in the fall. Gone. Cut off. The county I live in, was, at one point in American history, THE richest county in the entire country. I live in a money neighborhood – surrounded by shops, stores and plazas (4 plazas in one neighborhood!). It’s really interesting, actually. I was so bored that I counted everything in my SMALL, jam packed, big money, little neighborhood:

    8 banks
    6 gas stations
    3 pharmacies
    3 liquor stores (plus a bar)
    4 dry cleaners
    3 book stores (plus a library)
    2 subways
    2 dunkin donuts
    6 pizza shops
    3 chinese food restaurants
    3 diners
    1 dozen+ eateries, bakeries, restaurants
    10+ hair, nail and beauty salons (including tanning)

    and I’m not even done.!

    What it’s like to have $500 per month in a BIG MONEY town is not “depressing”. It is torturous.

    So torturous that it makes me audacious. Sometimes, I daydream about robbing one of these banks (impossible to do). I’ve gotten so bored that I taught myself how to steal cars (which is AMAZINGLY EASY to do)! Hilarious. Real hilarious.

    I understand the sort of things that drive people over the edge or drive people to such extremes. I mean, even my own mind has been twisted and degraded to think among the worst possible thoughts, when I never thought such things like that before.

    You know, this DIMINISHING of reality is something I noticed years ago during my very last “mental health day prison program”. These people wanted to focus on “fear” and “anxiety” and “pain” and “anger” and I stopped. I suddenly realized how absolutely unqualified these people and their “programs” were to “help” me. I wasn’t dealing with fear and anxiety, I was dealing with terror. I wasn’t dealing with pain and anger, I was dealing with agony and rage (which has escalated to fury).

    DIMINISHING. But this is just what “shrinks” DO isn’t it – they try to literally shrink things that are so over-amplified and over-blown. Enormous pain, enormous rage, enormous burden.

    Get out of here with this “depression” crap. Seriously. This country has been through UNRELENTING crisis and wars and foreboding and terror and catastrophes. Aren’t we WAY WAY WAY past “depression”?? Hello?

    I think it’s called living death.

    “Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75” —Benjamin Franklin

    What bill is that man’s name and face on?

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    • What it’s like to have $500 per month in a BIG MONEY town is not “depressing”. It is torturous.

      Thank you for this, mjk. I have the same thought myself every single day. After a while, one starts to suspect that maybe… just maybe… one isn’t expected to survive on so little. This is a boiling frog situation as these already very stingy programs keep getting cut.

      Happy Halloween from the Living Dead.

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        • Thanks! 🙂

          “I got my allowance…” Hahaha!

          This is perfect, since disability does not pay anyone enough to keep an adult properly fed, clothed and sheltered, especially in a Big Money Town. I wonder why our society punishes the most vulnerable this way.

          I was thinking, this article should really be called “Income Inequality & The Great Depression 2.0,” because that’s the real story. Only this time around, the breadlines are in our pockets where no one can see them, and the Democratic President is a Republican (who adds insult to injury by trying to mimic Martin Luther King).

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          • I have to give credit where credit is due. Obama “saved my life”. Something he did was a VERY big deal and a big difference for me. Remember the stimulus money in 2008? Well it’s sort of a long story but what happened was that I arrived, homeless, in this state on July 7, 2008. The only shelter that I could get into (Dorothy Day) closed that very day for their annual two-week shut down. I knew there was another shelter (city shelter) but they require a state ID (and of course, I didn’t have one).

            Obama’s stimulus money put me in a hotel for a week (thanks, Obama). I was EXTREMELY appreciative of that. When the money was gone and I had to go back out there I found a very clever spot to sleep in. Technically, I was breaking the law but…

            Oh, the stories really could unfold and continue on for a very long, long time. There’s just so much to say but, to WHO listening? Usually, nobody. The story about the HOUSING stimulus money in early 2009 is, in my opinion, a BIG story. And trust me, I tried to do something about it. And thanks to MY email to the mayor, I got those shelter doors OPEN for the holidays when they said they were closing for Christmas and New Year’s. I thought, oh really? No you’re not. So I took it upon myself to do something. I just wish that MORE people would have heard me and listened to me about that housing stimulus money. And other issues, too. See? I can go on forever. There’s no shutting me up.

            Anyway, here’s Dorothy Day (just a wee bit past All Saints Day)


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