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An evaluation of anxiety and depression in afro americans

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. 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. 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. The myths and stigma that surround depression create needless pain and confusion, and can keep people from getting proper treatment.

Depression And African Americans

The following statements reflect some common misconceptions about African Americans and depression: If our people could make it through slavery, we can make it through anything. And weakness in black women is intolerable. And the earlier treatment begins, the more effective it can be.

What causes clinical depression? Many factors can contribute to clinical depression, including cognitive issues e. For some, a number of these factors seem to be involved, while for others a single factor can cause the illness. Often, people become depressed for no apparent reason. Clinical depression is a treatable illness: The good news is that, like other illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes, clinical depression is treatable with the help of a health care professional. In fact, over 80 percent of people with depression can be treated successfully.

Symptoms of clinical depression: Due to cultural backgrounds, depression may be exhibited differently among African Americans. To help decide if you—or someone you care about—needs an evaluation for clinical depression, review the following list of symptoms. If you experience five or more for longer than two weeks, if you feel suicidal, or if the symptoms interfere with your daily routine, see your doctor, and bring this sheet with you.

The choice of treatment depends on how severe the depressive symptoms are and the history of the illness. Research strongly supports the use of medication for more severe episodes of clinical depression. Antidepressant medication acts on the chemical pathways of the brain related to moods.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors MAOIs are also prescribed by some doctors. Antidepressant medications are not habit-forming. It may take up to eight weeks before you notice an improvement. It is usually recommended that medications be continued for at least four to nine months after the depressive symptoms have improved.

Those with chronic or recurrent depression may an evaluation of anxiety and depression in afro americans to stay on medication to prevent or lessen further episodes.

People taking antidepressants should be monitored by a doctor to ensure the best treatment with the fewest side effects. Do not stop taking your medication without first talking with your doctor, since some medications cause problems if stopped abruptly.

Psychotherapy can help teach better ways of handling problems by talking with a trained mental health professional. Therapy can be effective in treating clinical depression, especially depression that is less severe.

Scientific studies have shown that short term 10-20 weeks courses of therapy are often helpful in treating depression. Making the most of your treatment: In addition to treatment, participation in a patient support group can be very helpful during the recovery process.

Support group members share their experiences with the illness, learn coping skills and exchange information on community providers. Also, be sure to take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, exercise in moderation, stay away from alcohol and drugs, and eat regular, well-balanced meals. Some find strength from faith or spiritual communities. The first step is to talk to your doctor, who may recommend a physical checkup to find out if there is any underlying physical cause for the depressive symptoms.

If clinical depression is diagnosed, then your physician or health maintenance organization will refer you to a mental health specialist.

Mental health professionals include psychiatrists, psychologists, pastoral counselors and social workers. Many people find strength and support through their religious and spiritual communities, however, only a physician or mental health professional is able to diagnose clinical depression. Pastoral counselors offer an integrated religious and spiritual approach to treatment. How do I pay for treatment? If you participate in private insurance, such as a health maintenance organization HMO plan, your costs for treatment may be covered.

Contact your health insurance provider for details. Depending on the rules of each state, many low-income or disabled residents may also be eligible for Medicaid coverage. Counseling by a certified pastoral counselor is generally covered by health care plans if the pastoral counselor is licensed by the state.

Your workplace may also have an employee assistance program EAP available to provide counseling or to help you find appropriate care. Some mental health professionals in private practice also work on a sliding-fee basis.

Many publicly-funded entities have waiting lists or other barriers to treatment. If you have trouble accessing treatment, contact your local mental health association or MHA for assistance.

You can enjoy your life again! With proper diagnosis and treatment, clinical depression can be overcome. Click here to read the story of John Head, an African American from Atlanta who suffered from depression, and how he found healing in an African American community.