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Addressing Disparities in Depression Diagnosis

Addressing Disparities in Depression Diagnosis

Depression is a formidable health condition that wields substantial influence over an individual’s life, especially children and teenagers. Depression makes it hard to focus at school, engage with friends or embrace new opportunities. More people are receiving a depression diagnosis, but different demographics are getting assessments and diagnoses at different rates. Read about some of the disparities and what they mean.

Common Disparities in Depression Diagnoses

Modern mental health care is constantly evolving to serve more people, but doctors and caregivers naturally operate from a place of cultural and social knowledge when addressing patient needs. Meaning people from different backgrounds may not get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Race & Social Class

Race and socioeconomic status play a role in the diagnosis of depression in several ways. People from minority groups or those of lower economic status tend to have less access to mental health resources and are less likely to get diagnosed. They are also more likely to try to push negative feelings of depression, despite having a higher rate of chronic depression.


A patient’s age can affect whether an individual receives a proper diagnosis and treatment for depression. Older adults may deal with unnoticed depression as they begin to lose the ability to do things they once enjoyed and become more isolated. Elderly patients are also likely to experience negative life events leading to depression.

When depression presents itself in children and teenagers, some parents and other caregivers may ignore the condition, reasoning that the child doesn’t have a reason to be depressed and will bounce back. However, children can experience stress and negative thoughts that can cause significant issues. Parents should take time to understand depression in young people and not ignore symptoms.


There is also a vast disparity in depression diagnosis among genders. Women are diagnosed with depressive disorders at a much higher rate than men. Men and boys are often socialized to ignore negative feelings associated with depression, even if they are experiencing pain. Although there are lower diagnoses among men for depression, males make up more instances of suicide in the U.S.

Reducing Depression Diagnosis Disparities

Changes in the approach to diagnosing depression are necessary to reach those experiencing symptoms. In general, people of all backgrounds, genders, and ages need to be able to access mental health providers to get the treatment they need. Extending the reach of access will help patients manage symptoms before they become overwhelming.

Assessments can also help. The (CDI 2) Children’s Depression Inventory, Second Edition, is a great tool to understand if a child is dealing with depression and how to support them. Ultimately, addressing depression and other mental health concerns should be done with openness and support for all groups.