Don’t say: “It can’t be that bad.”
Instead, say: “I may not fully understand what you’re going through, but I’m here to try.”
There is a major difference in being just a little sad and having depression. It’s important not to confuse the two, according to the National Institute on Mental Health. Keep in mind that there is a number of different depressive disorders, ranging in severity and length of time.
Don’t say: “You just need to relax and pray about it.”
Instead say: “We can do whatever we need to for you to get better.”
Those you love need to know that they can confide in you without judgment and they may be already nervous to share their feelings with you. A survey by Mental Health America showed that 63 percent of Black respondents viewed depression as a “personal weakness” compared to 54 percent of the overall population.
“I hated the whole just pray about it piece,” Taylor shares. “As a believer, I felt like God would want me to do more than just pray. If faith without works is truly dead, then shouldn’t I be getting help to seek out a therapist or counselor?”
Don’t say: “You’re acting crazy.”
Instead, say: “You are not going crazy. Thank you for being open.”
People who are suffering from depression are not crazy. They are simply a part of the 8 percent of U.S. adults who are suffering. But, negative attitudes toward mental illness already work as obstacles toward Blacks being open to receiving help. According to the same Mental Health America survey, 56 percent of Black Americans thought that being depressed was a “normal” part of growing older.
“The ideology that this is just a battle that only white people dealt with really got under my skin,” Taylor says. “Hearing that made me feel like I was the black sheep in the Black community. I was not only ashamed but also mad at myself for the illness I was dealing with thinking I’m the only Black person depressed.”
How to Spot Symptoms
Use the following list from Mental Health America to help determine if you or someone you care about should seek medical help immediately. MHA suggests that you talk to your doctor if you experience five or more symptoms for two weeks:
- 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
For immediate help, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255) or suicidepreventionlifeline.org.