Published Papers - Abstract 928

Holden L, Harris M, Hockey R, Ferrari A, Lee YY, Dobson AJ & Lee C. Predictors of change in depressive symptoms over time: Results from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2019; 245: 771-778

Background: Depressive symptoms fluctuate over time, and are most common amongst women in early adulthood. Understanding predictors of changes in depressive symptoms among young women may inform health promotion and early intervention.Methods: Data were collected at three-yearly intervals from 2000 (Survey 2) to 2012 (Survey 6) from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. The sample comprised 7663 women, aged 22–27 in 2000, who reported any indicator of poor mental health at any wave. Generalised linear mixed models identified predictors of change in depressive symptoms (CESD-10) over each three-year period.Results: Depressive symptoms reduced over time. In a fully adjusted model, greater reduction in symptoms was predicted by higher initial symptoms, time, higher social support, and higher self-rated general health. Slower reduction was predicted by lower education, difficulty managing on income, high or zero alcohol consumption,stress, and history of childhood sexual assault or partner violence. Motherhood predicted an increase in depressive symptoms at Survey 2 (2000), but a decrease at Survey 5 (2009). Limitations: Although sampling was nationally representative, there is a slight bias towards Australian-born and more educated women. Further, although validated measures are used, all data are self-report.Conclusions: Fluctuations in depressive symptoms among young women are related to fixed and time-varying factors spanning multiple health and social domains. A range of factors, including education and financial resources, promotion of positive social support systems, and encouragement of health promoting lifestyles, mightserve to promote young women's mental health and thus to reduce pressure on clinical services.