Today we live in a world where it is so hard to turn off the noise. An increasingly number of African-American women are feeling overwhelmed, resulting into prolonged periods of sadness, which could be telltale signs of depression. The pressure of being a “Super Woman” can take its toll. You know what’s going on in your life. You may be working in a job where you are constantly exceeding expectations, but never getting any credit or recognition from your boss. At home, your spouse is so focused on his world that rarely has he just asked you, “How you doin’?” Your kids, as innocent as they are, want you do always be on point, taking care of all their social and emotional needs.
So, you ask, am I just sad or am I depressed? What any mental health expert will tell you is that you need to carve out that “me time” every day. Yes, not just one day a week, but every day. You need to find ways to give yourself the respect others may not be giving you. Recent data show that 13.2 percent of the U.S. population is African-American, but out of those 16 percent had a “diagnosable mental illness” in the past year. That totals about 6.8 million people, according to Mental Health America, that’s more people than the populations of Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia combined!
Here are some symptoms you should look out for to determine if you’re more than just sad or having too many bad days.
Are you having a persistent “empty” feeling throughout the day and night?
Have you lost your appetite and desire for even your most favorite foods?
Are you feeling excessively guilty, helpless or hopeless when typically, you’re an optimistic, “half-glass-full” kind of person?
Do you dwell on what you’ve done wrong not only today but weeks, months, years ago?
Are you thinking about death or suicide?
Of course, you should always consult with a medical or mental health professional to get an official diagnosis. For far too long, mental health issues in the African-American community tend to be hidden or covered up for fear of getting labeled “crazy” or ostracized from your family and community. The results: increased depression and anxiety, leading to alcohol and drug abuse and heightened cases of chronic heart and kidney disease and diabetes.
Today, you can take several steps to take control of your left. Contact your health insurance, primary care physicians or state/county mental health agencies to find out what resources available. Feel free to contact the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline at 1-800-950-NAME (6264) or firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions and get additional help.
What’s important to remember is that what you are feeling is real and that you can get help. You are not alone.
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