Prevalence of depressive symptoms among Mexican Americans

J Nerv Ment Dis. 1981 Apr;169(4):213-9. doi: 10.1097/00005053-198104000-00002.


The evidence from most previous research suggests that Mexican Americans may have less mental illness because they either report less psychological distress than other population groups or use mental health services less frequently. Data from two surveys conducted in Alameda County, California, in 1974 and 1975 do not support either body of research. Responses to items relating to depressive symptoms suggest that the prevalence of depression may be as high or higher than it is in other groups. These results, although at variance with previous surveys and the bulk of the studies based on treatment data, do substantiate the few studies which report that mental health services utilization rates of Mexican Americans are equal to or greater than those for other groups. Although interesting, these results emanate from one community, and are based on self-reports of psychological distress. More definitive investigation of the incidence and prevalence of depression, and of other psychiatric disorders among Mexican Americans, will require epidemiological surveys using diagnostic procedures which are linguistically and culturally appropriate to this population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • California
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged