Combined Race and Gender Trend Disparities in Depressive Symptoms among U.S. High School Students: 1999–2019

Laura Grunin, Gary Yu, Sally Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2019, over 3.2 million adolescents in the U.S. reported depressive symptoms—a number that continues to increase annually. Not only can depression negatively impact an adolescent’s academic performance, social development, and cognitive function, but it is also the most common condition associated with suicide. Previous studies have reported prevalence rates and statistical trends by either gender or race. We conducted an in-depth analysis of the current racial and gender trend disparities in adolescent depressive symptoms by examining linear and quadratic trends from the Youth Behavior Risk Survey (N = 158,601) over two decades (1999–2019), stratified by gender and race subgroups, both separately and combined. This novel quantitative method allows for a more nuanced approach when exploring social and cultural influences on adolescent depressive symptoms. We found a significant difference in the prevalence of depressive symptoms between males and females among Black, Hispanic, and multiracial adolescents in each separate year of pooled data. However, an increased prevalence trend over the 20-year period was only seen among the females of these three racial categories. White and Asian female adolescents also exhibited a statistical increase in prevalence of depressive symptoms over time. The only group of males with a significant trend increase over time were White adolescents. Understanding the intersection of gender and race in adolescent depressive symptoms trends enhances evidence for nurses and other healthcare professionals when developing and implementing targeted, effective prevention and intervention measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)824-834
Number of pages11
JournalIssues in Mental Health Nursing
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health


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