Food insecurity and its association with co-occurring postnatal depression, hazardous drinking, and suicidality among women in peri-urban South Africa.

Journal of affective disorders

PubMedID: 23707034

Dewing S, Tomlinson M, le Roux IM, Chopra M, Tsai AC. Food insecurity and its association with co-occurring postnatal depression, hazardous drinking, and suicidality among women in peri-urban South Africa. J Affect Disord. 2013;150(2):460-5.
BACKGROUND
Although the public health impacts of food insecurity and depression on both maternal and child health are extensive, no studies have investigated the associations between food insecurity and postnatal depression or suicidality.

METHODS
We interviewed 249 women three months after they had given birth and assessed food insecurity, postnatal depression symptom severity, suicide risk, and hazardous drinking. Multivariable Poisson regression models with robust standard errors were used to estimate the impact of food insecurity on psychosocial outcomes.

RESULTS
Food insecurity, probable depression, and hazardous drinking were highly prevalent and co-occurring. More than half of the women (149 [59.8%]) were severely food insecure, 79 (31.7%) women met screening criteria for probable depression, and 39 (15.7%) women met screening criteria for hazardous drinking. Nineteen (7.6%) women had significant suicidality, of whom 7 (2.8%) were classified as high risk. Each additional point on the food insecurity scale was associated with increased risks of probable depression (adjusted risk ratio [ARR], 1.05; 95% CI, 1.02-1.07), hazardous drinking (ARR, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.00-1.09), and suicidality (ARR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.02-1.23). Evaluated at the means of the covariates, these estimated associations were large in magnitude.

LIMITATIONS
The study is limited by lack of data on formal DSM-IV diagnoses of major depressive disorder, potential sample selection bias, and inability to assess the causal impact of food insecurity.

CONCLUSION
Food insecurity is strongly associated with postnatal depression, hazardous drinking, and suicidality. Programmes promoting food security for new may enhance overall psychological well-being in addition to improving nutritional status.