Michelle Williams: “Depression Isn’t OK, But It’s OK To Get Help”

Michelle Williams once had difficulty just getting out of bed.

“I’ve dealt with depression,” says the 32-year-old singer and actress, who shot to fame as a member of the group Destiny’s Child. Williams also said that in the past few months, she has emerged from years of suffering, crediting exercise, therapy and positive thinking to her success.

“I had to choose to get out of bed and do whatever I needed to do to be happy,” she said during a break in rehearsals for her starring role in new touring production of “Fela!” that kicks off later in January 2013. Williams also has a new single on the, and is currently working on a solo album.

Michelle WilliamsWilliams says she suffered her first bout of depression at 15 or 16 and has managed to avoid medication. She is speaking out for the first time about her battle to encourage others to seek help.

“We’re taught, ‘Just go to church and pray about it. The Lord is going to heal you.’ Well, in the meantime, I believe God-gifted people, physicians, doctors, therapists — that’s your healing. Take advantage of it,” she said. “Go see a professional so that they can assess you. It’s OK if you’re going through something. Depression is not OK, but it is OK to go get help.”

Blacks & Depression

Most African Americans, including 92% of depressed African-American males, do not seek treatment. Stigma continues to be a major barrier to seeking out care. Many people are still confused between facts and myths, and either don’t understand what mental illnesses are, and/or continue to believe that there is something shameful about them.

In addition to shame, minorities often feel the legacy of racism and discrimination, leading to the distrust of health and mental health professionals. Feelings of stigma, discrimination, and mistrust of authorities preclude individuals in need from seeking out and receiving the help and treatments that can lead them to recovery.

• The death rate from suicide for African American men five times that for African American women, in 2005.

• African Americans are 30% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic Whites.

SHARE YOUR OPINION

Would you subscribe to a service where you can see a black doctor anytime via video chat for $19 a month?

Folic Acid: The Healthy Baby Vitamin

folic acid pillsFolic acid is a pregnancy superhero!  Taking a daily multivitamin containing the B vitamin folic acid is one of the best ways to prevent birth defects and an important step toward having a healthy baby, yet only about one-third of women know about it.

Folic acid is a naturally occurring B vitamin. It helps a fetus’s neural tube develop properly. The neural tube is the part of a developing baby that becomes the brain and spinal cord. When the neural tube does not close properly, a baby is born with a very serious birth defect called a neural tube defect (NTD).

The good news is that folic acid can help prevent neural tube defects. However, folic acid only works if taken before getting pregnant and during the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman may even know she is pregnant. Since nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, it’s important that all women of childbearing age (even if they’re not trying to get pregnant) get the recommended daily amount of folic acid.

The best way to get enough folic acid is to take a multivitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid in it and eat healthy foods. Most multivitamins have this amount, but check the label to be sure. You also can get folate (the natural form of folic acid) in some foods you eat, but most women don’t get the recommended amount of folate or folic acid from foods alone.

About 3,000 pregnancies are affected by neural tube defects each year in the United States. If all women took adequate folic acid before getting pregnant and during early pregnancy, up to 70 percent of neural tube defects could be prevented.

Once you’re pregnant, you should increase your folic acid intake to at least 600 micrograms of folic acid. Your prenatal vitamin should have the right amount of folic acid you’ll need during pregnancy.

Most women should limit the amount of folic acid they take to 1,000 micrograms a day unless otherwise directed by a health provider. For example, women who have had a previous pregnancy affected by birth defects of the brain and spine and women with sickle cell disease should be sure to talk with their health providers about the need for more folic acid.

Folic acid in foods

Folic acid is found in the following foods:

  • Fortified breakfast cereals (look on the label to see if the cereal has been fortified with folic acid)
  • Lentils
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Black beans
  • Peanuts (only if you do not have a peanut allergy)
  • Orange juice (from concentrate is best)
  • Enriched breads and pasta
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Broccoli