Neighborhood stressors and social support as predictors of depressive symptoms in the Chicago Community Adult Health Study

There is a growing interest in understanding the effects of specific neighborhood conditions on psychological wellbeing. We examined cross-sectional associations of neighborhood stressors (perceived violence and disorder, physical decay and disorder) and social support (residential stability, family structure, social cohesion, reciprocal exchange, social ties) with depressive symptoms in 3105 adults in Chicago. Subjects lived in 343 neighborhood clusters, areas of about two census tracts. Depressive symptoms were assessed with an 11-item version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) scale. Neighborhood variables were measured using rater assessments, surveys, and the US census. We used two-level gender-stratified models to estimate associations of neighborhood conditions with depressive symptoms after adjusting for individual-level covariates. Most social support variables were associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms in women but not men, while stressors were moderately associated with higher levels in all subjects. Adjusting concurrently for stressors and social support did not change results. This suggests both neighborhood stressors and social support are associated with depressive symptoms.