Socioeconomic Status and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in African American College Students: The Mediating Role of Hopelessness

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Factors such as socioeconomic status (SES) and hopelessness, a dimension of cognitive vulnerability, have been associated with the onset of depression and anxiety pathology in primarily European American study samples. The purpose of this brief article was to examine a main effect of SES and mediating effect of hopelessness in relation to acute symptoms of depression and anxiety in African American college students. Vulnerability-stress theories suggest that cognitively vulnerable individuals are more likely to develop depressive symptoms than individuals without cognitive vulnerabilities. Participants were 133 African American college students who completed self-report measures of hopelessness and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Results revealed that the relationship between participants' SES and participants' symptoms of depression was partially mediated by self-reported hopelessness. The relationship between participants' SES and anxiety symptoms was fully mediated by their level of hopelessness. However, the direction of the findings was unexpected in that higher SES was associated with increased symptoms of depression and anxiety and also increased hopelessness. Future research and considerations for intervention are briefly discussed. © The Author(s) 2013.

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