Depressive symptoms in middle-aged inner-city African-Americans higher than expected

Middle-aged African-Americans who live in the inner city have a higher than expected level of depressive symptoms which can lead to additional health problems, according to research from the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute, Inc.

To better understand depression in older urban African-Americans, Douglas Miller, M.D., professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a Regenstrief Institute, Inc. research scientist, and colleagues looked at depressive symptoms in middle-aged, inner-city African-Americans.

They found that more individuals in the study had clinically relevant elevations in their depressive symptoms than expected.

This study, one of very few focused on 5064-year-olds, appears in the May 2004 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The researchers studied nearly one thousand African-Americans living in a low-income St. Louis neighborhood as they were poised to enter their senior years and begin to encounter the disabilities that usually come with advanced age.

"We wanted to see them as they started on the path of disability and studied their depressive symptoms because of the major impact of these depressive symptoms on physical as well as mental health," said Dr.Miller. "Surprisingly, we found that middle-aged inner-city African-Americans had substantively higher levels of depressive symptoms than that found in the general U.S. population," said Dr. Miller.

Not only is depression linked with lower quality of life but it also appears to predispose people to a series of other medical problems such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and death. This study, which looked at depressive symptoms but was unable to identify whether the individuals had been diagnosed with a clinical diagnosis of depression, found that risk for increased depressive symptoms was closely tied to decreasing social support, being severely underweight or obese, or being

Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen
Indiana University

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