Do all types of stress equally increase the risk of suffering from depressive symptoms among African Americans transitioning into young adulthood? That’s one question asked in a new study by Lorena Estrada-Martínez, assistant professor of social work in the Brown School, and her colleagues at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
Estrada-Martínez, who is also a faculty scholar in WUSTL’s Institute for Public Health, and her colleagues looked at data from a long-running survey of African Americans aged 19–25 (a period called emerging adulthood) in the Flint, Mich., area. They found higher levels of depressive symptoms — such as feeling hopeless, lacking interest in things, and thinking about suicide during the previous week — with exposure to perceived daily stress (life’s everyday hassles), financial stress, neighborhood stress (e.g., fear of crime), and racial discrimination stress.
Further, participants who reported any accumulation of stressors over time had a higher risk for depressive symptoms than those who reported no stressors.
The findings suggest that members of this group are ineffectively coping with the stressors they’re facing; findings will also provide useful information for developing interventions to reduce risk factors and increase support for their successful transition into adulthood.
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