Depression rates among White girls drop as they age, but remain steady among Black girls, according to a new study by Northeastern University professor Dr. Debra L. Franko.
Franko and her fellow researchers examined self-reported symptoms of depression and analyzed the differences between more than 2,000 Black and White females between the ages of 16 and 23. The study was published in a recent issue of Journal of Adolescent Health.
Researchers say the differences occur because of known racial and ethnic health disparities.
“We believe that issues like access to proper care, the stigma of mental health problems and insurance status may be contributing factors to African-American girls suffering from depression being less likely to receive the necessary treatment,” says Franko, a professor of counseling and applied psychology. “This is clearly an area that needs to be investigated further.”
Franko and her colleagues also theorize that the different ways Black and White girls view their bodies may also contribute to the difference in depression rates between the two groups. Young White teenagers tend to be unhappy with their bodies and many show symptoms of depression as a result early on. As they get older and become more satisfied with their shapes, the level of depression decreases.
Conversely, most African-American girls accept their bodies in their early teens and young adulthood. Because there is no drop off in depression levels as their bodies change, the depression rate among Black women remains steady as they reach early adulthood.
The sample of Franko’s study looked at 1,146 African-American and 1,075 White girls. The girls were participants in the decade-long National Growth and Health Study, conducted between 1987 and 1998.
— Diverse staff reports
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