The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Scientists Have Linked Early Onset Menstruation With Depression, Especially Among African American Girls

Young black girl with depression

Recent studies show that African-American girls are at greater risk for depression at an earlier age and depression can last longer into adulthood. How? The studies show a strong link between African-American girls, who start menstruating earlier than white girls, and the onset of depression.

According to information from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and the Bogalusa Heart Study, African-American girls often start menstruating anywhere from a few months to almost a year sooner than white girls. As a result, they are at greater risk for depression. Why?

Early exposure to trauma and stress

Girls who reach puberty at an earlier age are more likely to be exposed to trauma, stress, and bullying, which can cause disruptions in cortisol and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, placing them at higher risk for the development of depressive disorders,” explains Dr. Erikka Dzirasa, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in private practice in Durham, N.C.

Earlier the age, higher the rate for depression

A new study published in Pediatrics, shows that these effects can last well into adulthood. The earlier the menstruation, the higher the rate of depression. Higher rates of depression were seen in girls who started menstruating at age 10, and even higher rates among girls who started menstruating at age 8.

Depression is still not openly discussed among the African American community. Only 25 percent of African-Americans seek mental health care compared to 40 percent of whites, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Fortunately, an increasing number of celebrities and those within the medical profession are openly discussing depression and the importance of educating young black girls in particular to seek help early.

Read more about the link between early menstruation and depression by visiting
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