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Nov-28-2007 12:55printcomments

Depression Stalks Oregon Residents who Struggle for Food

Suicidal thoughts are also much more common among the food insecure, according to the report Empty Cupboards, Empty Feelings.

Image from a depression era American food line
Image from a depression era American bread line. These residents were displaced by a flood in 1936, are we repeating history on this front too?
Photo courtesy: kottke.org

(SILVERTON, Ore.) - Oregonians struggling to put food on the table are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression than those with no such worries, according to a new report released today by the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

The analysis will be presented to the state Interagency Coordinating Council on Hunger tomorrow.

In response to a statewide telephone survey, one in three adults from households facing limited or uncertain availability of food -- what the federal government calls "food insecurity" -- reported being depressed, said the Silverton-based institute. By contrast, only one in seven adults from households where access to food was not a problem reported being depressed.

"Many struggling Oregonians face what Shakespeare would have called 'double, double, toil and trouble,'" said OCPP analyst Joy Margheim, co-author of the report. "While the causal connection is complex, it is clear that food insecurity and depression are intertwined."

Suicidal thoughts are also much more common among the food insecure, according to the report Empty Cupboards, Empty Feelings. It found that among adults facing not just food insecurity but actual hunger, 23.1 percent -- nearly one in four -- reported seriously considering suicide in the previous 12 months, compared to only about one in 70 adults in households that did not have problems obtaining food.

OCPP's report analyzed data gathered primarily in 2005 by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an annual survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Oregon Department of Human Services. The BRFSS has included questions concerning food security since 2001.

The report also found that women are especially at risk for both food insecurity and depression. One in six women lived in a food insecure household in 2005, OCPP said, compared to one in seven men. That same year, one in five women experienced depression, compared to about one in seven men.

"Although the data may seem disheartening," said Margheim, "the good news is that recognizing the overlap between food insecurity and depression may present new opportunities for addressing both." She noted, for example, that while depression may be difficult to prevent because some risk factors such as genetics and low socioeconomic status may be difficult or impossible to change, food insecurity can be addressed head on through food stamps and other programs. Improving food security may in turn alleviate depression.

OCPP will be presenting its findings Thursday at a meeting of the Interagency Coordinating Council on Hunger (ICCH), the entity charged with coordinating the state's anti-hunger efforts. The public policy think tank will recommend that the ICCH examine ways for the state to better link its anti-hunger efforts with its mental health services.

The Oregon Center for Public Policy is a non-partisan research institute that does in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues. The Center's goal is to improve decision making and generate more opportunities for all Oregonians.
Source: Oregon Center for Public Policy




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Henry Ruark November 29, 2007 12:45 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Interrupted Comment-above on inflation concluded following, for your key information readying for Feb. legislative session, when we need to make sure corporate profit-makers in Oregon are paying instead of dodging via various means, all manipulated by "campaign contributions" erroneously set up by the Supremes in railroad bribing-for-land era. Here's rest of those painful figures: '59 house cost$14,100; today's media price is $213,000; 1,400% inflation. A dental crown used to cost $40; today it's $1,100; 2,750% inflation. Ice cream cone cost 5 cents in 1950; today it's $2.50; 4,900% inflation. '70 monthly Medicare premium was $5.30; now $93.50; 1,664% inflation, up 70% in last five years. Source: Grandfather Economic Report: www.wakeupfromyourslumber.com All this started in Reagan era, with reliance on "supply side", "trickle-down" economic policies long proven unworkable and damaging worldwide.


nicole November 29, 2007 10:59 am (Pacific time)

vic you really need to have a reality check. people who have to choose between whether their electric is paid, the rent is paid or their is food on the table know what it is really like to have to suffer. I work full time and am a married mother of two. There have been times when I work just as hard as the next guy but there just isnt any money to make it through the month. with all of the inflation for some polictical bull crap like military taking over the world. we as a country need to learn to take care of our own people make sure everyone is feed and warm and has a place to sleep at night that is safe. I too have received that red flag on my door for my electric or water bill and still had no food in the cupboard. There are only limited places to receive assistance and those places are limited with the assistance the can give to each person. With all the money we shell out to other countries to better them I think its about time we start looking inward for solutions for our own problems before we are saving or destroying everyone else.


Henry Ruark November 29, 2007 8:18 am (Pacific time)

It is fact that continuing neocon economic policies, since the Reagan era, are now broadly recognized by famed economists as creating heavy erosion of purchasing power for most of our once-American Dream-seeking middle class. 1950s dollar now buys only 12 CENTS-worth of goods. Then a postage stamp cost 3 cents, today it is 41 cents --1,266% inflation. A gallon of gas then cost 18 cents, today it is $3.05-and-up --1,870% inflation.


Henry Ruark November 29, 2007 4:56 am (Pacific time)

To all: Must, inevitably, point out that the conditions reflected here are world-recognized as consequences of neocon heavy concentration on growth and strengthening of the corporate combinations now combining to conquer the rest of the world, too. For details well documented see Op Ed still running, and two coming on first strong and sure movements towards real remediation by corporate wit and wisdom itself applied, with much stronger governing regulation as demanded now.


Q Madp November 28, 2007 3:59 pm (Pacific time)

After finding a red tag on my door today from the water company, I also have to decide, running water or food. We give away millions of tons of food to other countries each year, dump millions or tons of food to keep the prices high in country... OK, maybe the number isn't that high... but when you see it happening and you're struggling to survive, it sure seems that way. Our utilities collect extra fees to help the "poor", but when you can't pay your bills because you didn't earn enough, they cut you off. I wonder who will own this country in 10 more years. Americans are a vanishing breed. (Frustraded here)


Vic November 28, 2007 2:13 pm (Pacific time)

Pathetic.....how goddam third world have we become ? But hey, we can send nukes anywhere in the world, and could wipe out the entire population of the Earth over 250 times !! That is something to be proud of !! Those hungry people need to stop being so selfish and be thankful for having the largest, most expensive military in the history of the world. We can kill anyone or everyone...so what if our country is going to Hell....we can take someone elses country.

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