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Rural Black Women Suffer Less Depression

Southern African American women who live in rural areas are far less likely to suffer from depression than those living in urban or suburban areas, a new study finds. For white women, geography appears to play less of a role.


About 4 percent of rural African American women in the South experienced depression at some point in their lives, versus about 10 percent for urban black women. (The data has been adjusted so it more accurately reflects the population the researchers sought to study.)

Suburban African American women in the South had the highest rate of depression, at about 13 percent, though the margin of error in sampling could account for that difference. (The study had a standard error of 1.0 and 0.9 percent for rural and urban black women and 5.9 percent for suburban black women.)

Among white women in the South, geography appeared to play a less important role in predicting whether a woman had suffered depression at some point in her life. Depression was more prevalent overall among white women (ranging from 21 percent for rural white women and about 19 percent for suburban white women). But there was far less difference in rates of depression among rural, suburban, and urban white women.

Overall, white women in the study were twice as likely as African American women to have suffered from depression.

Although the relationship between depression and race is complex and multifaceted, the authors theorized that varying levels of social support networks between black and white women contributed to the findings.

Factors such as strong familial support and social ties, high levels of spirituality, and a sense of solidarity with other rural women of color could contribute to the lower rates of depression, the study said.

The authors noted more research would be needed to better understand the needs of rural communities and to formulate successful intervention strategies. 

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