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Low-IQ White male’s burden: depression?

March 23, 2010

Over at Alternative Right, John Derbyshire babbles:

phenes are heritable at about the 50 percent level — not a thing that will surprise anyone who has raised children, but another boot in the rear end for the “psychodynamic” model (“I’m like this because of the way I was raised!”) that underlay psychoanalysis, and earlier editions of the DSM.

Anyways, you get the point. Scroll down and he has a picture of some white guy posing with savages.

Presumably Derbyshire is aware of the higher prevalence of depression among whites and Asians relative to blacks and Hispanics. Cornell has had 6 suicides since October. In the 15-24 female age group, Asian-Americans (presumably east Asians in this case) have the highest suicide rate of any race. Derbyshire would probably assume that these maladies are related to genetics or IQ.

It makes sense; introspection is going to require a minimum threshold of intellect. So one would assume that rates of depression would follow a linear upward trend from proletarian blacks/Hispanics to highly-educated whites and Asians, right? The over-rated but still brilliant David Foster Wallace hung himself. Kurt Kobain blasted himself while Tupac had to be taken down by another darkie. Obsidian would finally have something on those “high-IQ white folk”.

Researchers at UMich looked at the data from The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III which was conducted from 1988 to 1994. In it they found:

Prevalence of major depressive disorder differed significantly by racial/ethnic group,with the highest prevalence in White participants (Table 1). Mexican American and White individuals had significantly earlier onset of major depressive disorder compared with African American individuals(P=.001). Overall, persons living in poverty had nearly 1.5 times the prevalence of major depressive disorder; however, poverty was significantly associated with prevalence of major depressive disorder only for White respondents (P=.023). Lack of education(<8 years of school) was significantly associated with prevalence of major depressive disorder only for Mexican American individuals (P=.000).

[Riolo SA, Nguyen TA, Greden JF, King CA. Prevalence of depression by race/ethnicity: findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. Am J Public Health. 2005;95(6):998-1000.]

From their numbers, blacks/ Hispanics were about 30% less likely to be depressed. Adjusting for income and marital status (age did not appear to be a factor in depression diagnosis), blacks were half and likely to be depressed and Mexicans were about a third as likely.

Looking for more recent data, I downloaded the more recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999-2000 which unfortunately had a smaller sample size.

In the data the prevalence of depression by race was as follows:

Depression prevalence:

White: 9.3%

Black: 5.3%

Mexican: 4.4%

But when I isolated rates of depression for whites by education, I was a little bit surprised

Depression by education (Whites only):

High school or less: 42.9%

Some college/AA degree: 25.0%

Bachelors or above: 32.1%

You wouldn’t imagine Cletus to be brooding and deep but apparently, he is. The trend exists in other races. No college educated blacks or Mexicans in the study were depressed.

My other default assumption was that psychiatry is mostly quackery and smart people will purposefully deceive their shrinks about their MDD as they fear being placed on a dangerous, mild-altering SSRI. After all, they were only visiting the shrink for a benzo or addie.

Yet these sorts of gaps pop-up over and over again, from Wikipedia:

By race, in the United States, caucasians are nearly 2.5 times more likely to kill themselves than are […] Hispanics.

After looking at the numbers, I still don’t really understand them. If Depression is mostly genetic, presumably upper-class blacks and Hispanics would have similar rates as whites due to race-mixing. Obviously Depression has a mostly cultural and environmental component, though I’m sure Derbyshire doesn’t want to hear any of that.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2010 2:09 am

    “You wouldn’t imagine Cletus to be brooding and deep but apparently, he is”
    http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=95183303
    http://www.bakadesuyo.com/1-in-5-country-music-songs-refers-to-alcohol

  2. March 26, 2010 4:30 am

    White men are more likely to kill themselves in areas where they maintain a healthy majority of the population?

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    June 5, 2012 2:12 am

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