In the midst of a depressive episode, I had a friend say to me, ‘We are the descendants of those who survived the Middle Passage and slavery. Whatever you’re going through cannot be that bad.’ I was so hurt and angry by that statement. No, depression isn’t human trafficking, genocide or slavery, but it is real death-threatening pain to me. And of course, there are those who did not survive those travesties. But that comment just made me feel small and selfish and far worse than before. It made me wish I had never said anything at all.”
Watch for Signs of Clinical Depression
Symptoms of clinical depression can happen at any time to any woman.
Due to cultural backgrounds, depression may be exhibited differently among African Americans. If you suspect yourself—or someone you care about—needs could have clinical depression, take a look at 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:
- A persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood, or excessive crying
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain
- Irritability, restlessness
- Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, pessimism
- Sleeping too much or too little, early-morning waking
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including sex
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Here’s What Research Reveals About the Strong Black Woman
A study that examined the effects of the “superwoman schema” found that this stereotype made black women more susceptible to chronic stress, which can negatively impact health. Amani Allen, the Executive Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences and Epidemiology in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, was the primary researcher of the study.
“What [black women] were really describing was this idea of being strong black women and feeling the need to prepare for the racial discrimination they expect on a daily basis, and that preparation and anticipation adds to their overall stress burden,” Allen told Greater Good Magazine.
What is happening in the relationship between the strong black woman stereotype and racial discrimination is creating a vicious cycle.