Effects of Neighborhood Discrimination on Depression

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Because the effects of racism can be devastating for the lives of people of color, research has been devoted to determining the link between discrimination and psychopathology. Numerous studies have discovered a link between perceptions of racial discrimination and the likelihood of developing MDD among people of color (Russell et al., 2018). Because racism is integrated into many societal contexts, Russell et al.

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(2018) explored the effects of discrimination within neighborhood settings on the development of MDD. Understanding the impact racial discrimination within a neighborhood has on depression offers a number of clinical implications and opportunities for change. Methods The sample in Russell et al.’s (2018) study consisted of 499 African American females from Georgia and Iowa. Each participant was the primary caregiver for an African American child and had a mean age of 37 years at the beginning of the study.

Participants were interviewed every 2 to 3 years since the beginning of the study in 1997 for a total of five interviews. Samples were collected from racially and economically diverse neighborhood clusters that were based on data from the 1990 census. In sum, there were 21 neighborhood clusters from Iowa and 19 clusters from Georgia. (Russell et al., 2018). To collect data from the participants, a number of different questionnaires were administered via computer-assisted personal interviews to assess a number of different areas relating to characteristics of both the neighborhood and the individual. After each of the five waves of interviews, participants were given a diagnostic interview to assess for depression according to DSM-IV criteria. Once all data were collected, researchers ran a statistical analysis to highlight which environmental and individual factors are predictive of the development of MDD (Russell et al., 2018). Results Over the course of the study, 18% of the women in the study met symptoms for MDD. Experiences of racial discrimination in the neighborhood setting was positively related to the development of MDD and was found to be a more significant predictor of the development of MDD than individually experienced racism.

This finding suggests that the more pervasive racism is, the stronger the effects are on mental health (Russell et al., 2018). In terms of individual characteristics predictive of the development of MDD, relationship quality was negatively associated with the development of MDD. Positive relationships were found to minimize the negative effects of discrimination on the development of MDD even at the neighborhood level, suggesting that healthy relationships can offset the harmful effects of pervasive racism (Russell et al., 2018). One last finding related to the lasting effects of racial discrimination within a neighborhood. Since the study used a longitudinal approach to research, the sample characteristic changed over time. In fact, half of the participants moved from their original neighborhood over the course of the study.

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