Enduring subtle, insidious acts of racial discrimination is enough to depress anyone, but African-American men who believe that they should respond to stress with stoicism and emotional control experience more depression symptoms, according to new findings from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The study, "Taking It Like a Man: Masculine Role Norms as Moderators of the Racial DiscriminationDepressive Symptoms Association Among African-American Men," was published online March 8, 2012, in the American Journal of Public Health.
"We know that traditional role expectations are that men will restrict their emotions or 'take stress like a man,'" said study author Wizdom Powell Hammond, Ph.D., assistant professor of health behavior in UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health. "However, the more tightly some men cling to these traditional role norms, the more likely they are to be depressed.
"It also is clear that adherence to traditional role norms is not always harmful to men," Hammond said. "But we don't know a lot about how these norms shape how African-American men confront stressors, especially those that are race-related."
Hammond studied the phenomenon researchers call everyday racism, which is marked not so much by magnitude or how egregious the prejudice and torment were, but by persistence and subtlety.
"It chips away at people's sense of humanity and very likely at their hope and optimism," Hammond said. "We know these daily hassles have consequences for men's mental health, but we don't know why some men experience depression while others do not."
Hammond studied data collected from surveys of 674 African-American men, aged 18 and older, carried out at barber shops in four U.S. regions between 2003 and 2010.
She found that everyday racial discrimination was associated with depression across all age groups. Younger men (aged under 40) were more depressed, experienc
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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill