November 13, 2020

Researchers examine the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender on depressive symptoms.

Researchers examine the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender on depressive symptoms.
close up of man and woman's face.

Health disparities in depressive symptoms have been well researched with regard to gender and race/ethnicity. However, few studies have examined how the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender may impact depressive symptoms over the life span. With four decades of data available, Dr. Taylor Hargrove et al. utilize Wave I-IV of Add Health data along with a representative subsample of the newly released Wave V data set to analyze how these intersecting characteristics affect mental health. Their study sought to answer the following questions:

(1) To what extent do racial/ethnic inequalities in depressive symptoms vary by gender?

(2) Do the intersections of race/ethnicity and gender result in widening, narrowing, or stable disparities in mental health from adolescence to the beginning of midlife (ages 12–42)?

Dr. Hargrove found that women reported more depressive symptoms than men, and racial/ethnic minorities reported more depressive symptoms than their White peers. Results also exposed a difference in depression symptoms by race/ethnicity within each gender group and at varying times in the life course. Overall, depressive symptoms in women dramatically increased in their late 30s, while Black, Asian, and Hispanic women reported more symptoms than White women. Black and Asian American women were the most vulnerable groups, reporting the highest level of depressive symptoms over the greatest amount of time. With the addition of the Wave V subsample, Dr. Hargrove and her team found dynamic inequalities over more of the life course than previously reported. By highlighting these vulnerable populations and understanding the age trajectories for depressive symptoms, it is easier to determine when interventions would be best suited in the life course. 

Add Health Wave V data sets are available via restricted-use data contract


  • Dr. Taylor W. Hargrove
  • Dr. Carolyn T. Halpern
  • Dr. Lauren Gaydosh
  • Dr. Jon M. Hussey
  • Dr. Eric A. Whitsel
  • Dr. Nancy Dole
  • Dr. Robert A. Hummer
  • Dr. Kathleen Mullan Harris


Hargrove, T.W., Halpern, C.T., Gaydosh, L. et al. Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Trajectories of Depressive Symptoms Across Early- and Mid-Life Among the Add Health Cohort. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 7, 619–629 (2020).