Depression in Blacks Varies With Socioeconomic Status

African-American men at both ends of socioeconomic spectrum at greater risk

THURSDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- African-American men at both extremes of the socioeconomic spectrum are more likely to suffer from a major depressive episode (MDE); whereas African-American women with the lowest incomes are at greater risk of MDE, according to a study published online Feb. 4 in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

Darrell L. Hudson, M.P.H., Ph.D., of the University of California at San Francisco, and colleagues investigated the relationship between indicators of socioeconomic position and depression among African-Americans using data from the National Survey of American Life. In this sample of 3,570 African-Americans, cases of MDE that occurred in the previous 12 months or over their lifetime were identified, and correlations with socioeconomic status were assessed.

The researchers found that African-American men had increased odds of a 12-month MDE if they had a higher household income or were unemployed, and had reduced odds if they had a higher level of education. Men earning $80,000 or more had increased odds of a 12-month MDE compared with those in the lowest income category. Unemployed men were significantly more likely to suffer an MDE over the course of their lifetime. African-American women with lower household income had significantly increased odds of a 12-month MDE.

"The findings presented here and the research directions outlined are important for developing policies that not only reduce the socioeconomic disparities that negatively affect the mental health of African-Americans, but also address the unique social stressors that African-Americans may encounter across all levels of socioeconomic position," the authors write.

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