The Great Recession and mental health in the United States

Miriam K. Forbes*, Robert F. Krueger

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    76 Citations (Scopus)


    The full scope of the impact of the Great Recession on individuals' mental health has not been quantified to date. In this study we aimed to determine whether financial, job-related, and housing impacts experienced by individuals during the recession predicted changes in the occurrence of symptoms of depression, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, and problematic alcohol use or other substance use. Longitudinal survey data (n = 2,530 to n = 3,293) from the national Midlife in the United States study that were collected before (2003-2004) and after (2012-2013) the Great Recession were analyzed. The population-level trend was toward improvements in mental health over time. However, for individuals, each recession impact experienced was associated with long-lasting and transdiagnostic declines in mental health. These relationships were stronger for some sociodemographic groups, which suggests the need for additional support for people who suffer marked losses during recessions and for those without a strong safety net.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)900-913
    Number of pages14
    JournalClinical Psychological Science
    Issue number5
    Early online date19 Jul 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


    • Great Recession
    • global financial crisis
    • mental health
    • longitudinal research
    • open data


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