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Thursday, December 14, 2017

New Study Shows That Depression Among Poor Black Teens Is Different Than Other Teens

New Study Shows That Depression Among Poor Black Teens Is Different Than Other Teens
Depression is not just an adult disease. About 20 percent of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood. But a recent study showed that low-income black teens have depression symptoms that are different than those described by white teens. This can put them at greater risk for suicide because their symptoms may be overlooked and, therefore, untreated.

How poor black teens describe their symptoms

A recent study by The Rutgers University found that depressed African-American adolescents, especially those from poor communities, express their symptoms differently than white teens. Most depression is described as the feeling of sadness and loneliness. But black teens describe their depression in terms of conflicts with others and having difficulty sleeping. Since these feelings are not normally associated with depression, they can be overlooked.

The study was conducted with 800 African-American youth ages 11 to 21 who live in public housing developments in various locations such as North Philadelphia, New York City, St. Louis, Mo., and Washington, D.C. Their symptoms were quite different when compared with symptoms among other teens. Black teens with depression are more likely to express anger and irritability.

Disturbing results

These same teens, when presented with specific questions about feelings of sadness, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts, confirmed they also had these symptoms. Wenhau Lu, an assistant professor of childhood studies at Rutgers-Camden, stated that “Because depression presents differently for these young people, it is important to allow the adolescents to use their terminology when describing their depressive symptoms.”

Need to recognize symptoms

Only 30 percent of depressed teens are being treated for it, and even more poor black teens are being missed because their symptoms are different and not being screened. Young black teens living in poverty are exposed to more violence and this can be a factor in their risk for depression, according to the researchers. Researchers impressed the need to include these symptoms in the screening process in order to identify and treat more black teens for depression.

To learn more about teen depression, symptoms and treatment, visit
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