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Sista, You Are Not Alone: Black Women and Depression

depression May 24, 2023

Depression is a mental health challenge that can affect anyone, regardless of race, gender, or age. However, Black women may face unique challenges when it comes to depression. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Depression is an actual illness: Depression is not a weakness or a personal failure. Instead, it is a medical condition that is treatable with the proper care and support.
  2. There is no shame in seeking help: Many Black women may feel reluctant to seek help for depression due to cultural stigmas around mental health. However, seeking help is a sign of strength and courage, not weakness.
  3. Many treatment options are available: Treatment for depression may include therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination. 
  4. Self-care is essential: Practicing self-care can help you manage symptoms of depression and improve your overall well-being. This may include getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in activities that bring you joy.
  5. Support from friends and family is essential: A strong support network can help you cope with depression and feel less isolated. If you need more support, join the Sista Peace Tribe.
  6. Intersectionality matters: As Black women, we face additional stressors, such as racism and sexism, that can contribute to depression. 

Symptoms of depression can be mild to extreme and physical as well as mental. Unfortunately, women of color are often so involved in surviving that we do not recognize when we are depressed. 

Symptoms may include:

  • Sadness 
  • Irritability and anger; angry outbursts with little provocation - I have been the "angry Black woman" who was really depressed.
  • Unexplained aches and pains; headaches; backaches
  • Low energy; small tasks sap energy
  • Change in eating habits -- loss of appetite or binge eating (Orio cookies were my thing when I was depressed)
  • Extreme and unexplained weight gain or weight loss
  • Disengaged from daily activities
  • Lack of enjoyment of activities previously enjoyed
  • Changed sleeping patterns--from excessive sleeping to insomnia
  • Poor concentration and memory

Depression can occur for a variety of reasons. For example, nutritional deficiencies cause some cases of depression. Other cases of depression result from environmental factors, such as lack of sunlight, in the case of seasonal pattern depression (SAD -- Seasonal Effective Disorder). 

Remedies may be as simple as making lifestyle changes or dietary adjustments. However, in extreme cases of depression, prescription medications may be required to alleviate the condition. 

Clinical depression can eventually affect a person's physical health and ability to perform daily activities. In addition, suicidal thoughts are common. Or we may become self-destructive if our depression remains untreated. 

If you or someone you know is suicidal, don't hesitate to contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Someone is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help. 

Remember that depression is a treatable condition; seeking help is a sign of strength. If you are struggling with depression, join Sista Peace for support.