A new study released in the Nursing Research journal is shedding light on how depression affects Black women differently.
According to the research, medical professionals are more likely to “poorly recognize and undertreat” symptoms of depression among Black women, which can lead to adverse effects throughout their life terms.
The study took data from 227 Black women to explore the “depressive symptom phenotypes” within the demographic. The statistics found that Black women experience higher levels of “self-criticism, sleep disturbances, and irritability,” according to New York University, which led the study.
“Based on our findings, it’s possible that health care providers may miss depression symptoms in Black women, resulting in underdiagnosis and undertreatment,” Nicole Perez, PhD, RN, a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner and postdoctoral associate at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and the lead author of the study said on NYU’s website.
The report further revealed that lack of access and resources to help Black women is part of the problem, and by identifying the lack of access, improvements can be made lower the number of Black women who forgo the long-term mental health effects of depression.
“In this sample of African American women with increased cardiometabolic burden, increased stress was associated with depressive symptoms that standard screening tools may not capture. Research examining the effect of specific stressors and the efficacy of tools to identify at-risk AA women are urgently needed to address disparities and mental health burdens,” the report reads.
Depression is one of the world’s leading mental health disparities affecting millions of people every year. For Black women, the “increased risk of health inequity” can be damaging for generations to come, the report adds.
“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,” Perez concluded.