African-American Women and Depression
While hard data can be difficult to find, most mental health professionals serving African-American women recognize several unique psychological challenges that they face, including the following:
- African-Americans represent 25 percent of the mental health needs in the United States but only represent 12 percent of the population.
- Strong stigmas about mental health issues prevent African-Americans from seeking help for emotional problems.
- Ongoing discrimination, racism and socioeconomic pressures place African-American women at significant risk for depression and anxiety disorders.
- Traditionally, African-Americans have been over-diagnosed with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, while being under-diagnosed with conditions such as depression.
- Only 2 percent of U.S. psychologists are African-American.
While white women, by and large, tend to openly talk about going to therapy or being in counseling, African-American women tend to rely on close friends or religious institutions for their emotional support. Many believe that emotional problems are the result of personal weakness or lack of character. Some mistakenly believe that depression is just a case of “the blues” and that they will overcome it with enough faith, willpower or busyness. These cultural biases tend to cause African-American women to under-report symptoms of depression until their illness becomes completely debilitating. This greatly increases the frequency and intensity of corresponding problems, such as substance abuse and self-medication.
Cultural Causes of Depression among African-Americans
One powerful cause of depression for all people groups and cultures is stress. African-American women face an inordinate amount of stress related to the following social factors:
- African-American women are more likely to be sexually abused or assaulted than other nationalities.
- Persistent violence in much of the African-American community can cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which often leads to substance abuse, depression and addiction.
- Many African-American women have to work harder than their white counterparts just to make ends meet.
- African-American mothers experience great stress in the raising of their kids.
Many initiatives are currently being explored to demystify and de-stigmatize mental health care in the African-American community and an increasing – but still tiny – number of black psychologists are leading the way.
Depression Helpline for African-American Women
If you are an African American recognizing any of the following symptoms of depression, please call our toll-free helpline today:
- Loss of interest in things you used to find enjoyable
- Relational disconnection from friends and loved ones
- Emotional numbness, including not being happy and not being able to “snap out of it”
- Increased drug or alcohol use
- Impulsive and unwise choices
Our admission counselors are especially sensitive to the concerns and fears of African-American women seeking help. The call is completely free and anonymous. Don’t let fear or cultural factors keep you locked in the fog that is depression. Call now. We can help.