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Major depression in a community sample of African Americans
Am J Psychiatry 1995;152:373-378.
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OBJECTIVE: This study examined demographic, sociocultural, familial background, and health-related risk factors for major depression in a community sample of African Americans. METHOD: Data came from a probability sample of 865 urban African American adults, 20 years of age and older, who were given the structured National Institute of Mental Health Diagnostic Interview Schedule. RESULTS: The findings indicated a 1-year prevalence of 3.1% for major depression. While age, residential mobility, health status, and stressful life events were significantly associated with major depression, none of the sociocultural and family background factors were. The strongest predictors of major depression were poor or fair health and being 20-29 years of age. In terms of treatment for depression, persons with major depression were significantly more likely than those without to engage in help seeking. However, only 11.1% actually saw a psychiatrist or other mental health professional, and 7.4% saw no one. CONCLUSIONS: Young age and fair to poor physical health appear to be more powerful risk factors for major depression among African Americans than other demographic, sociocultural, and family background variables. Few African Americans with major depression actually receive clinical treatment for this illness. The results further suggest the need to increase awareness of major depression among general practitioners and to target outreach to African American communities.

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