Published Papers - Abstract 173

France C, Lee C & Powers J. Correlates of depressive symptoms in a representative sample of young Australian women. Australian Psychologist, 2004; 39(3): 228-237

This paper presents a descriptive analysis of the prevalence of depressive symptoms among a national cohort of young Australian women, and the characteristics of those who experience them. It explores the associations between demographic and health-related variables and depressive symptoms in a representative sample of 9333 Australian women aged 22-27 years, from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.Approximately 30% of these young women indicated that they were experiencing depressive symptoms, as indicated by the CES-D 10. After adjusting for age and rurality of residence, depressive symptoms were related to the following demographic variables: low income, low educational qualifications, a history of unemployment, not being in a relationship, and living arrangements other than living with a partner. Those health-related variables which were significantly associated with depressive symptoms included frequent visits to doctors and medical specialists, and a higher number of physical symptoms experienced and diagnoses made. More illicit drug use, higher use of cigarettes and alcohol, and lower exercise status were also significantly associated with depressive symptoms.This analysis supports the view that depression is one aspect of a multifactorial cluster of negative conditions across several domains of functioning, including physical ill-health, risky behaviours, and marginal social status. The complex interactions between these conditions, of which depression is only one, underscore the difficulties which arise in the treatment of depression and support the value of preventive interventions as an important public health strategy.