Discrimination, arrest history, and major depressive disorder in the U.S. Black population

Deidre M. Anglin, Quenesha Lighty, Lawrence H. Yang, Michelle Greenspoon, Rashun J. Miles, Tzachi Slonim, Kathleen Isaac, Monique J. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Everyday discrimination contributes negatively to depressive symptomatology among Blacks in the US and being arrested could add to this depression. Using data from the National Survey on American Life, the present study determined the association between an arrest history and major depressive disorder (MDD), while accounting for discrimination among African Americans, US-born Afro-Caribbeans and first-generation Black immigrants. Findings from logistic regression analyses adjusted for discrimination suggested an arrest history is associated with 12-month MDD (Adjusted OR=1.47; 95% CI=1.02-2.10) and lifetime MDD (Adjusted OR=1.56 CI=1.17-2.09). Accounting for drug and alcohol dependence attenuated the association between arrest history and 12-month MDD, but not lifetime MDD. The associations between arrest history and both 12-month and lifetime MDD, and discrimination and lifetime MDD varied by ethnic/immigrant group. Specifically, while the association between arrest history and MDD (both 12-month and lifetime) was strongest among US-born Afro-Caribbeans, evidence consistent with the immigrant paradox, the association between discrimination and lifetime MDD was particularly relevant for first-generation Black immigrants, suggesting discrimination may hinder the protection of first-generation status. Mental health prevention and treatment programs should target the stress associated with being arrested and experiencing discrimination among US Blacks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-121
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 30 2014


  • African American
  • Afro-Caribbean
  • Arrest
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Everyday discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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