Sunday, August 14, 2022

Depression – Within the Black Community.

January 28, 2015 by  
Filed under Health, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

( According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “depression is a mental illness that can be costly and debilitating to sufferers. Depression can adversely affect the course and outcome of common chronic conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Depression also can result in increased work absenteeism, short-term disability, and decreased productivity.” Many of you have either suffered from depression or have known someone who has. An estimated 1 in 10 adults REPORT some form of depression; the key word being report. Many view depression as a sign of weakness, to the point that those that enduring a serious bout of this disease will simply live in silence rather than seek proper help. Depression conceptual design isolated on white background. Low mood concept

With all due respect to you guys that give advice over Facebook and who love to fashion yourself as a life coach, you are not considered “proper help” in dealing with the many faces of depression. Some of our children are dealing with depression on their own because they are not allowed to discuss issues with parents who fear the root of their child’s depression. When it comes to drugs, sexual orientation, or being bullied at school, some parents would rather sweep these issues under the rug than talk with their children about what is bothering them. Parents, having a child with these types of issues do not make you an incompetent parent. Our children have been reaching out to us for years for help but to no avail.

History of African Americans and Depression

In 1921 in the first edition of American Journal of Psychiatry, Beavis wrote his feelings “most of the race are carefree, live in the here and now with limited capacity to recall or profit by experiences of the past. Sadness and depression have little part of his psychological makeup” (p. 11). A study of African American ministers suggested that spiritual advisors believed that suicide was a ‘White thing’. It was also noted that some even believed that there was no such thing as black suicide. It was thought that blacks, who have suffered through the effects of slavery, were a resilient people, most of whom were just happy to be. “Blacks were historically viewed as a psychologically unsophisticated race that were naturally high Heath Muhammadspirited and unburdened with a sense of responsibility.” (Prudhomme, 1938; Prange & Vitols, 1962). Detailed records of slave logs suggest that slaves did commit suicide during capture and after being brought to America. Some slaves believed that their soul would return to Africa after death.

Slave owners would mutilate the body of those that committed suicide to dissuade others as slaves also believed that dismembered bodies could not return home. Suicide in the black community has not been studied partially because previous studies have not distinguished between races. Most studies are done, unless specific, on college campuses where you have an attentive demographic, most of whom receive extra credit from their professors for participating in these studies.

Intro psychology classes are generally thought of as a good sample to survey because often these classes contain over 250 students. However, African Americans are quite underrepresented in this major (I was, in most cases, the only one in my upper division psych classes.). The reality of suicide in the black community is, according to a 2004 study, “African American adolescents and young adults have the highest number and the highest rate of suicide of any age group of African Americans. Suicide was the third-leading cause of death among African American people aged 15 to 19 years, fourth among those aged 20 to 29 years, and eighth among those aged 30 to 39. Among African American adolescents and young adults, it is particularly the males that have the highest rates.” (Reese, Crosby, Hasbrouck, & Willis, 2004).

Reality of Depression

As I have scoured the internet looking for statistics of depression in the African American community, I have commonly found articles linking depression in men to homosexuality. It seems that a lot of people in my community erroneously relate depression to so called “sins.” Then the next common sites for blacks and depression are those that deal with black life in The Great Depression. This shows the depth or lack of research done. The truth of depression is that:

  1. 63% of African Americans believe that depression is a personal weakness.
  2. Depression is the main cause of suicide in America.
  3. 1 African American dies by suicide every 4.5 hrs.
  4. Suicide was the 16th-leading cause of death overall in 2003 for African Americans.
  5. Depression afflicts women twice as often.
  6. Depression affects more black women than white women.
  7. The rate of suicide in males is higher than that in females.
  8. Only 7% of black women are receiving help for depression compared to 20% of white women.
  9. In some circles it is better to report that you know someone in prison than to report you know someone getting help with depression.
  10. Many more people are hospitalized for nonfatal suicide attempts than are fatally injured. Furthermore, an even greater number are treated in ambulatory settings or are not treated at all for injuries sustained during a suicide attempt than those who are actually hospitalized.

Signs of depression

            Here are some key symptoms of depression:

  1. Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  2. Fatigue and decreased energy
  3. Feelings of inappropriate guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  4. Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  5. Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  6. Irritability, restlessness, hyperactivity
  7. Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  8. Overeating or appetite loss
  9. Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  10. Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  11. Thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts


Depression is not a ‘white thing’ that only affects the weak and so called “hell bound” (some religious circles believe this). It is a real thing that affects indiscriminately, regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof. It is something that has to be dealt with within every community and we must work to relieve the stigma that suppresses many African Americans’ cry for help. Whether you have a mistrust of psychology or lack proper knowledge of it, depression has been a part of the black experience regardless of whether or not we talk about it. In the time that we waste believing these feelings will work themselves out, or that our children are just going through growing pains, someone in the community has already attempted or successfully committed suicide.

Staff Writer; Heath D. Muhammad


One Response to “Depression – Within the Black Community.”
  1. Kal says:

    For anyone suffering from depression, I recommend the Destroy Depression system written by James Gordon. He is a former depression and PTSD sufferer, and teaches a totally natural 7 step process to eliminate depression and regain control of your life.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!