THE LINK BETWEEN BLACKS AND DEPRESSION
Depression. It is a plague that slowly takes over the minds and hearts of a lot of people especially African-Americans. How do you get it? Most people think it’s a self inflicted ordeal when indeed it is not. It is a mental disadvantage that hinders your growth in every way. You begin to think negatively so you begin to act negatively. Your actions not only hurt you though, they hurt everyone around you. You begin to shut others out, start doubting yourself, and you may even start to act violent (towards others and yourself).
Why do I feel strongly about such a topic? Since I was about 13 I have struggled with depression, and it only gets stronger through the years without help. Why do I know this firsthand? Not many people but my closest friends know that I struggle with the disorder. I don’t like to tell people because it is something I sometimes feel ashamed of. I always feel like if I tell someone either they’re going to over or under exaggerate the matter, and that’s the reason some people don’t share their feelings either.
Blacks are prone to the illness I believe. Why? Because our history has affected our living. Slavery and racial exclusion from needed resources keeps us at a low socioeconomic status. People of low socioeconomic status are usually those who have a history of incarceration, poverty, homelessness, and or drug abuse. Who usually possesses one or more of these traits? African-Americans. And since low socioeconomic is usually linked to depression, who better to be the number one contender than African-Americans?
Black people are major targets of racial profiling, and we are usually excluded from communities because of bias. Through European invasion we were taught to change ourselves and become accustomed to European culture. We cannot find our self worth because our minds our not strong enough to break from societal barriers and we beat ourselves up for it.
Blacks (men specifically) are more likely to be victims of violent crimes which can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Depression is possibly one of the biggest problems hindering Black growth because Blacks don’t believe it’s a big deal, believe it’s “normal”, or they don’t get help. 63% of African-Americans believe that depression is a personal weakness or a self inflicted issue as I stated earlier. 56% of African Americans believe it is “normal”. People don’t receive help because of several barriers which include: denial, shame, pride, and lack of knowledge. Studies even show that only 34% of African-Americans would take an anti-depressant if prescribed.
As stated earlier, depression can lead to terrible outcomes. Some people can turn to drugs, Some people can shut out those who care for them. Some people seek out the wrong attention. This means they can look to be accepted by the wrong group of individuals. Or some use sexual acts as a way to cope with their feelings. They can’t love themselves so they think someone else will. But actions especially of such can lead to much more hazardous dilemmas. If a person looks for love and acceptance in sex, and they find out that’s all they’re actually good for, it could lead them to a darker place. Our most common side effect of depression is suicide attempts. I say attempts because not everyone is actually victorious in their goal. But we still don’t want those with the illness to believe death is an option.
While some don’t want treatment, some simply cannot afford it. Black people have lower wages than other races which means they cannot afford the resources for help. They cannot see specialists or buy medication. A lot of Black people are not insured to even receive a copay. All again a socioeconomic issue in a systematic cycle of oppression.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The answer is simple. BE THERE! Do not give up on your friend or family member. Insist they get help and look out for things that can help you spot depression in a person like behavioral change and isolation. Offer help, and continue to offer help. They may not want it, but they’ll appreciate it no matter how agitated they get. If someone tells you they are depressed, DO NOT tell someone else during afternoon tea. This is not a Love and Hip-Hop special, this is your “friend’ crying out for help. Depending on the person and speed of mood change you may want to ask ASAP or refrain from asking if the person has contemplated suicide. You don’t want them to get any ideas, but you also don’t want them to have the idea and act on it. Sometimes people wear a mask, so it’s hard to tell whether a person is depressed or not. Remember, everything that glitters is not gold!
If you, or anyone else you know, is depressed please call 775-784-8090 and/or text “ANSWER” to 839863. You may also visit the Crisis Call Center for other issues and options.