Exposure to racism and other stressors increase the risk for depression in Black folks and other people of color. But for Black women — who are impacted by racism, sexism, and other forms oppression — their depressive symptoms appear differently than other groups and may go overlooked by doctors.
A Dec. 2022 paper published in Nursing Research revealed that Black women are less likely to report stereotypical symptoms of depression such as sadness or hopelessness. Instead, they’re noting trouble sleeping, self-criticism, irritability, and an inability to experience pleasure.
This discovery — made by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and Columbia University School of Nursing — could mean Black women aren’t getting the mental health care they need.
“Based on our findings, it’s possible that health care providers may miss depression symptoms in Black women, resulting in underdiagnosis and undertreatment,” Nicole Perez, Ph.D., RN, a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner and postdoctoral associate at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and the lead author of the study, said in a statement.