Recognizing depression in African-American women as a condition that mimics complaints of being tired, stressed, uninterested, or even hostile, is the key to getting loved ones the help they need.  Depression can be passed from one generation to the next and can be triggered many life events, including the death of loved ones, loss of employment, and aging.  When someone is depressed, he or she typically feels a sadness that lasts longer than a few days or weeks, and this state of mind can be accompanied by thoughts of wanting to hurt or kill oneself.

Common concerns among African-American women who experience depression are: Family problems: feeling uninspired to take part in routine activities, being inattentive, missed appointments, and a lack of productivity around the home.

Relationship problems: conflicts with spouses or significant others, children, and friends and feelings of social or spiritual isolation.

Risky behaviors: violent or aggressive behavior, unprotected sexual practices, alcohol and other drug abuse, driving erratically, and engaging in dangerous activities.

Physical symptoms: muscular tension, insomnia, stomach aches, other physical complaints.

What to do?  If you or someone close to you is experiencing any of these symptoms or feelings of hopelessness that last for more than a few weeks, seek assistance from a mental health professional.  Provide as much support as possible by active listening, reassurance that the use of a professional therapist is acceptable, and encouragement, including accompanying them to a trained therapist, if necessary.

National and Local Organizations to Know in Mental Health Crisis

Mental Health Association of D.C.

Phone:  (202) 265-6363

District of Columbia Department of Mental Health

Phone:  (202) 698-2470

Maryland’s Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention Network

Baltimore Crisis Response (410) 433-5255 provides hotline and mobile crisis services.

The Compassionate Friends of Baltimore (410) 560-3358 provides grief support

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center is the nation’s only federally supported resource center devoted to advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.