Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States, and they experience higher risks of major depression than non-Latino whites. This may be the result of the effects of acculturation and relatively high poverty levels.
“Depression in US Hispanics: Diagnostic and Management Considerations in Family Practice,” published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, reveals that despite a higher prevalence of the issue, depression is less often recognized or treated in Hispanic individuals as compared to white Americans. Reasons for this include the following:
- Disparities in healthcare
- Hispanics are more likely to seek help from primary care providers rather than mental health specialists
- Cultural emphasis on physical symptoms rather than psychological
- Treatment needs are not the same among all Hispanics; This minority group is not heterogeneous
Untreated depression can lead to or result from co-occurring problems such as substance abuse.
Depression and Addiction in Hispanic Women
ABCNews explains that addiction and depression, “occur together in an extremely high percentage of individuals…Substance abuse can cause depression and depression can cause substance abuse.” Drugs that slow the brain contribute to depression, while “uppers” lead to crashes that include depression. If individuals already have depression, they may turn to drugs to self-medicate symptoms or numb emotions.
The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) “Drug Use Among Racial/Ethnic Minorities” reports that Hispanic men are twice as likely to abuse drugs such as marijuana or cocaine than Hispanic women, but this does not mean that women are not at risk for drug abuse or addiction.
Treating Depression in Hispanic Women
Hispanic women require culturally-relevant treatment that addresses all co-occurring issues. “Depression in US Hispanics” explains that culturally-relevant depression and addiction treatment will consider the following:
- Cultural identity
- Language barriers
- Cultural experience of symptoms
- Developing clinician-patient relationships despite cultural differences
Understanding treatment programs recognize the challenges facing women and Hispanics, and offer care that addresses these challenges and provides real and relevant solutions for lasting mental and physical health.