“Why Are You So Sad All The Time?”: Depression In The Black Community

For those of you who actually read my blog, I apologize for the hiatus I’ve taken from updating my blog. Part of this was the result of a busy summer and a busy start to my senior year. The other part was the result of deciding whether to write about the topic that’s been on my mind for quite some time.

Depression.

There, I said it and now it’s out there in the open. It’s such a simple word and yet it has worked its way into every aspect of our daily life. There are support groups for people suffering from depression, focus groups that yearn to understand what goes on in a depressed person’s mind, and countless ads about depression medications (we’ve all seen the one with the lady and the wind up toy that looks like her. It’s kinda creepy, but gets the point across).

And with the tragic passing of Robin Williams last year due to suicide, the conversation surrounding suicide has been ramped up. In the days and weeks following his death, articles popped up on how to deal with depression and news programs dedicated entire segments to the growing number of people dealing with depression.

A conversation was restarted as more people began talking about their battle with depression and how they wanted to overcome it. But there was a problem with this conversation. One group seemed noticeably absent from this conversation on depression: African Americans.

First, let me drop some statistics on you.According to the CDC, on average, 9% of Americans report experiencing a depressive episode. However, the number is much higher amongst African Americans. An estimated 12.8% of African Americans report experiencing depression, compared to 11% among Hispanic and 7% among whites. So it’s not like African Americans don’t experience depression, because these numbers obviously come from somewhere. 

But this isn’t talked about as often as it should be. Whenever I watch a program on BET, I hardly ever see a character who is suffering from depression and if they are, they’re considered “weak” or “moody.” No one thinks to acknowledge the fact that they’re depressed. 

And if you thought TV was bad, real life is even worse. The depression discussion hardly ever happens, even on my college campus. And if it does, it usually goes something like this: “Depression doesn’t exist. That’s just people who don’t know how to be happy”, “Depression is for white people” or my all-time favorite line “Depression only affects people who are weak.”

If you are someone who thinks along these lines, throw all those ideas out the door immediately. Depression can affect anyone, regardless of race, gender, age, or religion. Depression does exist and the people who suffer from it are not weak. They are some of the strongest people I know because they must go about their daily lives while battling depression. Do you know how hard this is? To go about your daily lives and pretend that nothing is wrong? Do you know how much strength that takes?

Well, I do because I suffer from depression. And it’s not something I’m afraid to talk about with my friends, my family, and others who may be curious about depression. I’m not afraid to talk about my depression with someone who might be experiencing the same thing. Because it may help them to get through each and every day. It may even save their life.

So don’t be afraid to bring up the topic of depression, whether you’re experiencing it, you feel like a close friend or family member is, or you just feel it’s a conversation that needs to take place. It’s time for us to stop sweeping this issue under the rug and belittling those who are depressed. It’s time to start talking about it.

It can be a difficult conversation to begin, but  http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/offers some helpful tips on how to start the conversation. If you’re a college student, then host a forum or start a group where students can talk openly about depression and dispel any myths.

And if you’re someone who suffers from depression, know that you’re not alone. And it doesn’t make you weak, so don’t be afraid to reach out to someone to ask for help.

Note: The featured image is courtesy of huffingtonpost.com 

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