A study of depressive symptoms and stress among cash grain farmers in Ohio was conducted. The cohort consisted of 388 male cash grain farmers, 30 to 65+ years old, who participated in the 1993 Ohio Farm Family Health and Hazard Surveillance Program, a survey designed to estimate the levels of depressive disorders among Ohio farmers. The controls consisted of 1,375 similarly aged males who participated in the NHANES-I Epidemiological Followup Study conducted from 1982 to 1984. The subjects were interviewed by questionnaire on symptoms such as loss of restful sleep, crying spells, and loneliness during the preceding week. They also completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CESD), which rated depressive symptoms, and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), which scored stressors and their effects. The mean CESD scores of the farmers were significantly higher than those of the controls, 1.68 versus 1.57. When stratified by age, the greatest prevalence of depressive symptoms, as indicated by the CESD, occurred in 30 to 44 year old farmers. Although statistically significant when compared to scores of the other age groups, this explained only 1% of the variance in the CESD data. An increased prevalence of depression symptoms, not statistically significant, was also seen in farmers 65 years or older. The scores of 30 to 44 year old farmers on the CESD were significantly correlated with their scores on the PSS. Those of the 65 year or older farmers were not correlated with the PSS scores. The authors conclude that male farm operators, particularly those under the age of 45, report experiencing more depression symptoms than the average employed male in the United States.
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