Depression: A Debilitating Condition in Later Life for Minority Elders

Depression: A Debilitating Condition in Later Life for Minority Elders

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Currently, our aging population is living longer than any other generation due to improved medicine, stronger financial systems, and a larger emphasis on education and healthcare (Angel, 2009). Yet, literature shows that longevity is not a good indicator of successful aging, and we have to consider dimensions of health in cultural groups that are ignored but influence their aging. Consequently, mental health is a dimension that is severely overlooked in ethnic groups and it is critical that we consider positive mental health as a channel to assure successful aging. Every year, at least 50 million American adults suffer from mental illnesses. Furthermore, literature shows that depression has been identified as one of the most prevalent psychiatric diagnosis among the elderly, being linked to morbidity, disability, and suicide risk (Conner et. al, 2010; Liebowitz, et. al, 1997). Even more overwhelming, Black older adults suffer more psychological distress than their White counterparts due to their exposure and experiences with racism, discrimination, prejudice, poverty, and violence (Brown, 2003; Conner et. al, 2010; DHHS, 2001; Outlaw, 1993; Williams, Neighbors, & Jackson, 2003) and have fewer psychological, social, and financial resources than their White counterparts (Choi & Gonzales, 2005; Conner et. al, 2010). Even more disturbing, they are less likely to receive an appropriate diagnosis or treatment for depression, when compared to Whites. Prevalence estimates of depression among clinical samples of older Blacks range from 10% to 33% due to limited and varying research.
Therefore, we will focus on some of the challenges aging Blacks face that can lead to depression and unsuccessful aging by looking at the following: Negativ...


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