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J Natl Med Assoc. 2009 Nov;101(11):1084-9.

Major depressive disorder in the African American population: meeting the challenges of stigma, misdiagnosis, and treatment disparities.

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  • 1Meharry Medical College, 1005 Dr D.B. Todd Jr Blvd, Nashville, TN 37208-3599, USA.


This article examines major depressive disorder (MDD) in the African American population. As prevalence rates and severity of depression in African Americans are investigated, the findings indicate many blacks are underdiagnosed. Further, African Americans seem to have more severe episodes of depression compared to Caucasians. Explanations for this difference are that African Americans with MDD often present with somatic symptoms, leading physicians to miss a MDD diagnosis. Depression is often stigmatized in the African American population, seen as a "personal weakness." Educating the community about depression and educating physicians to make cultural competent diagnoses are necessary. Treatment disparities emerge as African Americans are more likely uninsured, and many are nonresponsive to traditional pharmacological interventions for depression. African American and other ethnic groups differ in the way they metabolize selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, leading physicians to have less of an understanding of how to treat the African American patients. The lack of minorities in research trials limits the number of effective medication to treat this population of patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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