The relationship between mental health and poverty has been well documented in adults. However, few studies have addressed how low socioeconomic status and psychosocial vulnerabilities may influence depressive symptoms in adolescents. The current study was carried out in a non-randomly selected sample of 239 adolescents whose parents work as ragpickers (waste collectors for recycling) in Brazil. In-person interviews were conducted, and the presence of depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation were assessed using the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI). We observed that 23% (CI±5.34) of the adolescents presented with depressive symptoms and 35% (CI±6.05) had suicidal ideation. Fatigue or loss of energy (p = .012) and irritable mood (p = .013) were significantly higher among boys than girls according to DSM-IV criteria. However, we found no gender differences in DSM-IV criteria for Major Depressive Disorders (MDD) or Dysthymic Disorder (DD) in diminished interest or pleasure, weight loss or weight gain, decreased appetite, sleep problems, feelings of worthlessness, diminished concentration or ability to think, recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, or low self-esteem. There were no significant gender differences in total CDI score, however a greater percentage of girls presented with depressed mood than boys (29.9% vs. 17.1%, p < .05).
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