Long-lasting depression more common among blacks and Mexican American

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While depression seems much more common among whites than blacks or Mexican Americans, the opposite is true when it comes to a milder mood disorder known as dysthemia.

Researchers interviewed more than 8,000 people age 15-40 and found depression was much more prevalent among whites than blacks or Mexican Americans, and poverty was a contributing factor for depression only among whites. Yet for dysthemic disorder, which is characterized by long-lasting mild depression and such symptoms as insomnia, tearfulness and pessimism, the prevalence was much higher among blacks and Mexican Americans than whites. Lack of education was a significant risk factor for dysthemic disorder, which prevents a person from fully enjoying life.

The findings, which were based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III conducted from 1988 to 1994, show the importance of defining types of depression when addressing racial and ethnic disparities of the mental health problem. The study’s authors said more research into the issue is needed to shed light on possible contributing factors such as unemployment, rural residence and related disorders, including substance abuse and anxiety.

[From: “ Prevalence of Depression by Race/Ethnicity: Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III.” Contact: Stephanie A. Riolo, MD, MPH, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, [email protected].]



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