Purpose: It is unclear why rates of depression differ by race/ethnicity among young women. This study examines whether racial/ethnic differences in depressive symptoms are reduced by intimate partner violence (IPV), traumatic events, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among a clinical sample of low-income women. Methods: A cross-sectional sample of 2414 young African American, Hispanic, and white women completed a survey that included questions about depression, PTSD symptoms, IPV, and trauma. Binary logistic regression and Poisson regression determined whether reports of PTSD symptoms, IPV, and trauma among white, African American, and Hispanic women affected the differences in depression found in these groups. Results: Twenty-four percent reported a level of depressive symptoms that warranted further evaluation for major depressive disorders. White women had elevated levels of depressive symptoms and were more likely to report ≥4 symptoms. White women also reported higher rates of PTSD symptoms, IPV, and traumatic events than African American or Hispanic women. Differences in the likelihood of reporting ≥4 depressive symptoms by race/ethnicity were reduced after controlling for PTSD symptoms and trauma. PTSD symptoms attenuated the differences in the count of depressive symptoms between white and African American women. After controlling for PTSD symptoms, trauma attenuated the difference in the count of depressive symptoms between Hispanic and white women. Conclusions: Elevated levels of trauma and PTSD symptoms among white women compared to African American or Hispanic women may play a role in observed racial/ethnic differences in depressive symptoms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas