A new study conducted by the University of Michigan and Michigan State University has found that American senior citizens of black Caribbean descent, as well as those senior citizens who are caucasian, are more susceptible to major depression than black seniors of African descent. Amanda Toler Woodward, an associate professor at Michigan State University, claims the findings of the study conclude that major depression among the elderly is actually quite common compared to previous estimates, which is and will continue to be a serious issue as the baby boomers reach older ages. Woodward states that major depression is a significant health issue for the elderly and all of society, and as such we must keep a closer watch on those around us who are aging.
Mental Health And Stability
The study conducted by the universities was first published in Anxiety and Depression, a prestigious medical journal that deals with issues surrounding mental health and stability. This particular study sought to examine major depression rates amongst the American elderly within three specific ethnic groups: whites, black Caribbeans, and African Americans. What the researchers found was quite surprising. Roughly 24% of white people in the study aged 50 of older claimed to have experienced some form of major depression, or symptoms of depression, at least once in their life, while 9% of the same group admitted to having those feelings within the prior year. African Americans aged over 50 saw a significantly lower rate of major depression, with only 17% of them reporting major depression at least once in their life, while 7% of the same group claimed to have experienced it within the last year. Black Caribbeans saw a ratio closer to white people, with about 23% feeling symptoms of major depression at least once during their life, and 15% from the same group having had those feelings in the previous year. It should be noted that the study did not inquire as to the reason for the higher depression rates among the black Caribbeans, but Woodward believes the negative experiences of recent immigration and separation from friends and family while adapting to a foreign American culture may be to blame.
Ten Year Trend
In the last 10 years the amount of immigrants from the Caribbean has doubled, surpassing 3 million in the United States. Woodward explains that this study shows how African Americans and black Caribbeans have less in common than one might initially assume, and therefore the two groups should be kept separate when concerning treatment and diagnostics, not only for all forms of depression but for any mental or psychological condition, and possibly physical ailments as well.
Standard gender divides for seniors battling depression were unusual for black Caribbeans as well. While whites and African Americans generally saw higher major depression rates among their women, and subsequently lower rates among the men, the black Caribbeans saw just the opposite. Senior black Caribbeans were reported to be much more likely to experience major depression than women of the same age and descent. Again, the study did not delve into the triggers for the higher depression rates in the men, but the data shows conclusively that each ethnic group must be dealt with on an individual basis, as differences between cultural and socioeconomic status can greatly effect how one interacts with the world, whether depressed or not.