Emerging Opportunities for Addressing Maternal Depression under Medicaid

January 24, 2013 | Embry M. Howell, Olivia Golden, William Beardslee

This is a report by the Urban Institute.

Depression is a common condition in the United States, with 9 percent of adults reporting current depression in 2006-2008; rates are higher for women than for men. Rates of current depression for those who do not graduate from high school (17 percent) are over twice as high as for those with some college (7 percent) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2010).

Depression is a particularly serious problem for low-income mothers, since it can create two generations of suffering, for the mother and her children. The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (2009) documented the scope of this problem and its damaging implications for the nation's children, recommending improved efforts to identify and treat depressed parents. Untreated parental depression, particularly when children are young, poses risks for children's cognitive, socioemotional, and behavioral development and for learning and physical and mental health over the long term (Center on the Developing Child 2009; NRC and IOM 2009; Knitzer, Theberge, and Johnson 2008).

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