(Black PR Wire)(February 18, 2009) We’ve all had those days and weeks in which we felt that nothing could go right. Too much work and not enough time, demanding friends and family members and a job with mounting performance expectations, sick kids or elderly parents, church and social functions requiring baked goods and hours of organization. While we’re all human, often times we feel that we must act super human in our day to day activities. Sometimes we get down and the feeling doesn’t go away. Each year upwards of 17 million Americans suffer from depression. Major depression is the number one psychological disorder in the Western world.
Though white Americans experience depression more often, African Americans and Caribbean Americans experience greater severity and persistence of depression according to a study completed by the non-profit organization Mental Health America in March of 2007. Furthermore African Americans and Caribbean Americans are much less likely to seek professional help than non-Hispanic white Americans. According to the aforementioned study published in the March edition of Archives of General Psychology “…cultural and social stigma frequently causes minority groups to view depression and other mental illnesses as personal flaws or signs of weakness.”
It is a little known fact that African American women suffer a great deal from depression, yet aren’t likely to seek treatment, viewing it as a sign of personal weakness. In fact, occurrence of depression amongst black women is estimated at 50% higher than among white women. Grammy Award winning African American songstress Jennifer Holliday fought a ten year battle with depression before seeking help. She later became a volunteer advocate for the National Mental Health Association in order to inspire African American women specifically to seek help and stop seeing their depression as a weakness and instead as a disease to treat and overcome.
According to psychiatric nurse and Ph.D. Barbara Jones Warren, an expert on the mental health of African American women, depression is described clinically as a mood disorder with a collection of symptoms persisting for longer than a two week period. Jones Warren suggests individual as well as group therapy for African American women to help them fully understand their treatment choices, enhance their self-esteem and develop alternative strategies in order to handle their stress appropriately. With appropriate treatment and a strong support system these women can begin to take care of themselves emotionally and physically much like they take care of everyone else around them.