Date of Award

7-2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Applied Sociology

Advisor

Granberg, Ellen

Committee Member

Witte , James

Committee Member

Sturkie , Douglas K

Abstract

The costs are very high, both emotionally and economically, to those who suffer from depression and those close to them. Depressive symptoms vary among individuals, by gender, between racial and ethnic groups, and by socioeconomic status (SES). Group differences in rates of depression have been noted for decades, especially between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites. The role of race in mental health is still relevant today, and many issues regarding risk factors and differences between racial and ethnic groups remain unanswered. This study examines the differences in rates of depressive symptoms between African Americans and non-Hispanic Whites. Particularly, socioeconomic status (SES), physical health and social support are used to explain the differences between race and amount of depressive symptoms. Results indicate that SES, physical health and quality of social support are significant in predicting depressive symptoms. African Americans experience significantly higher levels of depressive symptoms, lower SES, poorer health and lower quantities of informal social support. Differences in SES and physical health largely explain racial group differences in depressive symptoms, and the influence of these factors remains stable over time.

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