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Research Letter
September 8, 2021

Major Depressive Episode Severity Among Adults from Marginalized Racial and Ethnic Backgrounds in the US

Author Affiliations
  • 1Health Equity Research Lab, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • 2Center for Health Equity, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 4Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York
  • 5Department of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York
JAMA Psychiatry. Published online September 8, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.2485

Depression is the leading cause of disability and disease burden in the US.1,2 Research using the National Comorbidity Survey (fielded 1990-1992) showed that while lifetime and past-year rates of major depressive disorder were lower among individuals from minoritized racial and ethnic groups compared with White adults,3 major depressive disorder persistence was greater for Black and Latino adults.3 Analysis of the National Survey of American Life (fielded 2001-2003) found similar or lower major depressive disorder prevalence among Black adults compared with White adults but greater major depressive disorder chronicity, severity, and disability.4 We provide an update of these findings, analyzing nationally representative data to estimate differences in major depressive episode (MDE) prevalence, persistence, and severity among racial and ethnic groups.

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