Mood disorders of childhood and adolescence in a low-income, urban community: A retrospective chart review

BACKGROUND: Our goal was to determine the risk factors that most correlated with mood disorder diagnoses in children in a low-income, urban community.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective chart review of 174 patients age 6 to 18 who were seen between November 2016 and July 2017 at the University Hospital Psychiatric Pediatric Emergency Services in Newark, New Jersey, United States.

RESULTS: Bivariate and multivariate analyses revealed that increasing age, female sex, exposure to trauma, and family history of psychiatric illness were significantly associated with mood disorders in our sample.

CONCLUSIONS: The correlation of mood disorders with trauma and family psychiatric history is of particular significance in our sample. In low-income cities with high crime rates and a lack of positive influences, children often have difficulty obtaining the skills to cope with trauma in a healthy manner. Also, the paucity of resources in these communities prevents family mem­bers from getting the mental health treatment that they need, further inhibit­ing children in these families from developing healthy habits. Mental health treatment must be targeted towards entire families and not just in children with mood disorders in order to most effectively improve the mental health outcomes of those who grow up in these communities.

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