A new study led by Amanda Toler Woodward, an associate professor of social work at Michigan State University, found significant racial disparities in depression among older adults. The study of more than 2,000 American adults found that Whites and Blacks of Caribbean descent experienced much higher rates of depression than African Americans.
The study, published in the journal Anxiety and Depression, found that 24 percent of Whites aged 50 and over experienced major depressive symptoms at least once in their lifetimes and 9 percent had such symptoms in the year prior to the survey. For Blacks of Caribbean descent, 23 percent had been depressed during their lifetimes and 15 percent had been depressed in the year prior to the survey.
But for older African Americans, only 17 percent had been depressed at some point in their lifetime and only 7 percent had been depressed over the past year.
Black Caribbean older men experienced higher rates of depression than Black Caribbean older women. For Whites and African Americans, women tended to be more likely to have depressive symptoms than men.
Dr. Woodward stated, “This data shows that Black Caribbeans and African Americans are not as similar as one may think and when we’re thinking about diagnoses and treatment, we shouldn’t lump them together.”