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July 19, 2003

Depression Variation?

The Washington Post reports that a gene variation makes some people more vulnerable to clinical depression after a major trauma (e.g. divorce, job loss). The article utters nary a word about IQ or testosterone, but offers this tidbit:

"Moffitt's study, being published today in the journal Science, involved Caucasian patients, specifically a group of New Zealanders of mainly English, Scottish and Irish descent. There has been limited study of such genetic variations in other ethnic groups, Moffitt said, although preliminary studies indicated that groups in West Africa, as well as African Americans, were more likely to have the protective form of the gene. Small studies in Japan, Korea and China found a higher frequency of the gene that increases vulnerability, she said. Neither Moffitt nor Weinberger knew of any studies examining the question in Hispanics or Native Americans."

Posted by duende at 06:04 PM

The African-American suicide rate has long been significantly lower than the white rate. A lot of suicides are no doubt caused by depression, although another huge component are men shooting themselves while terminally ill. (My wife says women don't shoot themselves because, unlike with men, it occurs to them that somebody will have to clean up afterwards.)

One big question about depression is whether it strikes everybody randomly or it's more likely to strike people whose natural psychic "set point" is closer to "sad" than "happy." I don't know the answer.

I do think it's quite possible that the average black person's "set point," all else being equal, is happier than the average white person's, and that that may contribute to the lower suicide rate.

Posted by: Steve Sailer at July 20, 2003 11:21 PM

Every time I hear some black activist say that black men don't go to college because they have low self-esteem, I wonder how many black men that activist knows.

Posted by: duende at July 21, 2003 07:51 PM

This certainly adds a biological component to Japan's notoriously high suicide rate.

Posted by: duende at July 21, 2003 07:52 PM