Depression is common in low-income communities, but finding help is not as easy. However, a new study has found that when patients participate in community groups and interact within their community (church or barber shops), it can help to improve that patient’s symptoms.
By participating in community groups, patients were found to be more active and had a lower risk of becoming homeless or experience other behavioral problems. The study was conducted by researchers who surveyed residents of lower-income areas of Los Angeles; the results were published online by the Journal of General Internal Medicine. The study’s team included researchers from the RAND Corporation, UCLA, Healthy African American Families, QueensCare Health & Faith Partnership and Behavioral Health Services.
“People who received help as a part of the community-led effort to improve depression care were able to do a better job navigating through the daily challenges of life,” said psychiatrist Kenneth Wells, the project’s lead RAND investigator. “People became more stable in their lives and were at lower risk of facing a personal crisis, such as experiencing poor quality of life or becoming homeless.”
The results of their research show that patients experienced a more complete form of support when participating in various community groups as part of a depression treatment and when training that addressed depression was offered throughout the community and health care agencies. This aided in helping the patients make better improvements and social outcomes. The study patients were mostly African American and Latino.
“We worked together as a community to create a system that would provide clear and consistent messages for anyone with depression, regardless of gender, ethnicity, medical conditions, age or income level,” said Loretta Jones, one of the project’s lead community investigators and CEO of Healthy African American Families.
Depression is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. The condition is often treated with antidepressant drugs like Paxil or Effexor. Paxil and Effexor has been known to cause patients to suffer from violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior as well as lead to birth defects in babies born to mothers who take the pills while pregnant. The birth defects linked to Paxil and Effexor use include PPHN, spina bifida, neural tube defects, oral clefts and heart, lung and brain defects. With these drugs not being as available to lower-income families due to the prescription costs, this new study may help provide cheaper (and perhaps even more effective) alternative treatments.