Mental Health Awareness Month: Depression

Major depression is a super common yet disabling disorder. It plagues 11 million people in the United States daily. Being diagnosed with depression and feeling depressed are two very different things. The DSM-5 (the diagnostic manual for mental health professionals) defines a major depressive episode as “at least two weeks of a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities, as well as at least five other symptoms, such as:

  1. Sleep issues on an almost daily basis (either difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much)
  2. Changes in appetite and weight (change of more than 5% body weight in a month) or a decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
  3. Decreased energy or fatigue almost every day
  4. Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and thinking clearly
  5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation that is observable by others (slow physical movements or unintentional or purposeless motions)
  6. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan for suicide”

There’s not a single cause of depression. Your combination of brain chemistry, hormones, genetics, life experiences and physical health all play a role in whether and/or when the disorder manifests.

While depression can be seen in people from all walks of life the prevalence of depression in African Americans tends to be controversial. “The deficit in the knowledge and skills in treating depression in African Americans have not been adequately addressed so far. Inadequate and insufficient data on African Americans contributes to the problems of under diagnoses, misdiagnosis, and under treatment of depression (NCBI NLM NIH).”

If you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms listed above it’s best to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you get to the root of the cause of your depression, equip you with tools to cope with your depression in a healthy manor and help you work towards drastically lowering the amount of days you’re feeling depressed. You can find black mental health professionals in your area here !

If you have been feeling suicidal you can immediately text ‘help’ to 741741 to speak with a crisis counselor.

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