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Abstract

Mothers of young children are at risk for depressive symptoms due to their gender and status as parents. The primary purposes of this study were (1) to assess the prevalence of depressive symptoms in a sample of mothers with young children, (2) to identify sociodemographic correlates of depressive symptoms among the women, and (3) to determine if chronic stress is associated with depressive symptoms independent of other risk factors. In-home interviews were conducted with 196 mothers of 5- and 6-year-old children using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies–Depression (CES-D) Scale and the Everyday Stressors Index (ESI). High depressive symptoms (CES-D ≥ 16) were reported by 49% of the mothers. They were highest among those who had never married, had less than a high school education, were under 25 years of age, were black, and had a low income. The ESI was a strong predictor of high depressive symptoms, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics. In comparison to mothers reporting a low level of everyday stressors (score = 5), those scoring 15 were 3 times more likely to have high depressive symptoms; those scoring 35 were more than 30 times as likely to have high CES-D scores. The results suggest the importance of chronic daily stressors as correlates of depressive symptoms in mothers of young children and also point to th need for multivariate models when examining predictors c those symptoms.