The Invisible 90 Percent: Changing The Narrative On Black Men & Depression

Black and white image of an african american manOctober is Depression Awareness Month and Kid Cudi’s recent tweet about his personal struggle with depression has brought the issue of depression and specifically depression in African-American men to the forefront. Depression as a disorder has been recognized for centuries with many documented cases of what was then called Melancholia.  While conversations about depression have become more commonplace in the general population, there is still an undeniable stigma when it comes to discussing depression in the African-American community. This is especially true when it comes to depression and African-American men.

What Is Depression?

Okay, I am a doctor so I’ve got to get some of the nerdy doctor stuff out of the way. Before we discuss depression, we really should define what depression is.  Depression is not just feeling blue or down from time to time, everyone feels this way at some point in their lives. Depression, rather, is a long-term condition (lasting months to years) that results from an imbalance in the brain’s neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine) combined with genetic factors, life stressors and other medical conditions. Depression leads to an inability to function normally in daily life. The most common symptoms of depression include:

1. Sleep disturbances (either insomnia or hypersomnia);