Depression in the African American Christian Community: Examining Denominational and Gender Differences

a pair of hands cusped together

Religion and spirituality are a common method in African American communities for coping with various life stressors. At this time, though, it is unclear whether R/S contributes to mental health risk or resilience.

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), this study examines whether self-reported denominational affiliation predicts differences in African American young adults’ rates of reporting heightened depressive symptoms. Moreover, the study considers whether these effects are different for women and men–a crucial consideration as these groups differ in their religiosity, gender roles, and gender expectations.

Key Findings

  • Results indicate that the odds of having elevated depressive symptoms are three times higher for Catholic women compared to Baptist women.
  • However, no denominational differences were found among men.
  • These findings highlight how unique denominational and gender subcultures within African American Christian communities may predict depression outcomes, and how healthcare professionals and church-based outreach programs should consider denomination and gender when making efforts to support mental health equity.