Depression and African-Americans: Not "Just the Blues"

If sadness doesn't go away, it could be clinical depression.

Posted: 08/19/2013 02:11 PM EDT

Clinical depression is more than life’s “ups” and “downs.” Life is full of joy and pain, happiness and sorrow. It is normal to feel sad when a loved one dies, or when you are sick, going through a divorce, or having financial problems. But for some people the sadness does not go away, or keeps coming back. If your “blues” last more than a few weeks or cause you to struggle with daily life, you may be suffering from clinical depression.

Clinical depression is not a personal weakness, gracelessness or faithlessness—it is a common, yet serious, medical illness. Clinical depression is a “whole-body” illness that affects your mood, thoughts, body and behavior. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who have clinical depression.

Clinical depression can affect anyone: Anyone can experience clinical depression, regardless of race, gender, age, creed or income. Every year more than 19 million Americans suffer from some type of depressive illness. According to a Surgeon General report, African Americans are over-represented in populations that are particularly at risk for mental illness. Depression robs people of the enjoyment found in daily life and can even lead to suicide. A common myth about depression is that it is “normal” for certain people to feel depressed—older people, teenagers, new mothers, menopausal women, or those with a chronic illness. The truth is that depression is not a normal part of life for any African American, regardless of age or life situation. Unfortunately, depression has often been misdiagnosed in the African-American community.

Read more about African-Americans and depression at BlackHealthMatters.Com.

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(Photo: Image Source / Getty Images)

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