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Depression Symptoms May Differ in Black Women

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Symptoms of depression may differ in Black American women, according to a newly published health study.

Published in the Nursing Research scientific journal, the study, titled “Latent Class Analysis of Depressive Symptom Phenotypes Among Black/African American Mothers,” was conducted by a cohort of researchers. From the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and the Columbia University School of Nursing, the leaders of the research study looked at the information of 227 Black women. 

All of the participants in the study had previously been checked for depression in another study; a majority of the women were young and had lower levels of depression.

 In their results, the researchers found that the Black women that displayed the most symptoms of depression had more somatic symptoms than self-critical symptoms. Instead of reporting qualities like a feeling that everything is hopeless, they displayed more qualities such as tiredness, lack of pleasure, less of a drive, irritability and less of an ability to fall asleep. 

“Based on our findings, it’s possible that health care providers may miss depression symptoms in Black women, resulting in underdiagnosis and undertreatment,” said lead author and nurse practitioner at the Rory Meyers College of Nursing, Nicole Perez, Ph.D., RN, in a statement per a publication by the school itself. 

“My hope is that these findings contribute to the growing dialogue of how depression can look different from person to person, and raise awareness of the need for more research in historically understudied and minoritized populations, so that we can better identify symptoms and reduce missed care and health disparities.”

The latest study corroborates previous studies and previous calls for highlighting the need to focus on mental health amongst all Black Americans. According to an article by Mental Health America, Black Americans are reporting rates similar to white Americans in terms of mental health issues; more than 16% of Black Americans have said they have a mental illness.

In terms of depressive episodes, in a three-year span, the rate increased for Black Americans amongst all age ranges. While Black Americans from the age of 12 to 17 reported an increased rate from nine percent to 10.3%, those aged 18 to 25 reported an increase from 6.1% to 9.4%. Black Americans from the ages of 26 to 49, meanwhile, recorded an increase from 5.7% to 6.3%. 

During the pandemic, studies found that the rates of depression only increased amongst Black Americans. According to a study released by Plus One, Black Americans were found to be 1.16 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression. 

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