The lived experience of depression in elderly African American women

Helen K. Black, Tracela White, Susan M. Hannum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objectives. This article focuses on the lived experience of depression in 20 elderly African American women. Methods. Data on depression emerged from research that qualitatively explored experiences of depression, sadness, and suffering in 120 community-dwelling persons aged 80 and older, stratified by gender, ethnicity, and self-reported health. Results. We placed women's narratives under three general themes: Depression was (a) linked with diminishment of personal strength, (b) related to sadness and suffering, and (c) preventable or resolvable through personal responsibility. Brief accounts illustrate how themes emerged in women's discussion of depression. Discussion. African American women created a language for depression that was rooted in their personal and cultural history and presented in vivid vignettes through their life stories. Their belief systems and the language they used to describe depression are integral aspects of the lived experience of depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S392-S398
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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