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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Psychology Test Used to Diagnose Depression May Not Work on Black People

Black mother and child dealing with depression

A new study has discovered that the test generally used to evaluate a person's mental state may not be as accurate in diagnosing depression in black people compared to whites.
The study from University of Chicago Press suggests that the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), the conventional depression screening scale, may not be applicable to black people.

While the signs and symptoms used is an effective scale for white people, the study shows that it may not work the same for black people. The researchers found that the primary reason may be that depression between white and black people are caused by entirely different factors.

According to Tonic, the test asks people to rate how much they relate to feelings such as "I felt fearful" and "I had crying spells" which are patterned only from depression symptoms found in white people. However, most of the reported depression of black people come from physical or interpersonal symptoms instead of feelings.

It was also found that aside from the difference between races, socio-economic status might also have a different effect on mental health. Moreover, the historical adversity experienced by black people such as slavery and discrimination still has an effect today. It means that people who are experiencing poverty and homelessness might have higher risks of poor mental health.

This is an important issue since it has been reported that black people are 20% more likely to experience serious psychological distress than whites. According to Mental Health America, about 6.4 million black Americans are diagnosed with depression in 2014. That's besides those who are left undiagnosed because of the disparities in the depression scale.

Furthermore, the study suggests that due to the various signs and symptoms among demographic groups, doctors "should assess the unique expression of depression among black youth when developing treatment plans."
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