Hispanic Women and Depression
Recent studies suggest that Hispanic women suffer from general depression and perinatal depression at greater rates than non-Hispanic women, and are less likely to seek help due to cultural stigma and misinformation. While every study shows that something as simple as a discussion of symptoms with a doctor can lead to a significant reduction in suffering, the women who would benefit most from this help seem to receive it the least. The result can be years of additional suffering, harm to children, substance abuse, and addiction.
Latinas and Perinatal Depression
A woman’s body experiences radical hormonal changes during pregnancy, delivery, and nursing. These changes can wreak havoc on overall mental health, causing any or all of the following depression symptoms:
- Loss of appetite or cravings to over-eat compulsively
- Loss of interest in the baby
- Inability to enjoy pleasurable activities
- Persistent sadness or melancholy
- Inability to focus
- Emotional numbness or apathy
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Compared to 20% of women in general, up to 30% of Latinas suffer from depression during the months leading up to, and immediately following, childbirth. While 80% of new mothers experience a milder form of post-partum upset (often referred to as the “baby blues), these moms tend to return to normal emotional function within a couple of weeks. Women suffering from serious depression experience these symptoms for weeks, months, or even years.
Hispanic Cultural Issues Surrounding Depression
Long-held superstitions and prejudices surround mental health concerns in the Hispanic cultures. Many Latinas are unwilling to seek help for depression for the following cultural reasons:
- They fear being labeled as crazy
- They self-identify as “strong” and believe that they should be able to handle stress
- They fear medical treatment as a potential source of addiction
- Many fear health care in general for reasons related to immigration status
Depression can be caused by genetic and/or environmental factors. Hispanic women seem to be at risk on several fronts. In addition to potential genetic links for depression, these women experience the following life issues that can cause or exacerbate depression:
- Persistent economic hardship and stress
- Constant fear of deportation
- Unmet expectations for financial security
- Feeling powerless due to the traditional role of women in the Hispanic family
- Moving constantly in search of work
It is likely that a combination of increased stressors with family history predisposes them to depression. It is a major problem that so few Hispanic women seek or accept help for this very treatable disorder.
24 Hour Depression Helpline for All Women
If you are an Hispanic woman struggling with feelings you suspect may be depression, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our staff members are standing by any time of day or night with caring and confidential answers to your questions and immediate access to the best possible treatments available. Don’t suffer in silence any longer. You deserve the best possible help and we can help you find it. Call now.