BLACK MAN HURTING: Do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Depression in Our Men? – EBONY

Black Man Face
Black Man Face (Photo credit: Dr Case)




Do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Depression in Our Men?


A recent study shows Black men are unlikely to be prescribed antidepressants. Michael Arceneaux says he knows all too well how doctors miss the boat with Black men’s mental health


By Michael Arceneaux Writer


Do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Depression in Our Men?


I’m not surprised by the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health survey’s findings that doctors are far less likely to prescribe antidepressants to Black and Latino patients afflicted with major depressive disorder than their white counterparts.


In their findings, race, payment source, physician ownership status and geographical region were all listed as factors that play into whether physicians decide to prescribe antidepressants to patients. Moreover, age and payment source influence which types of antidepressants patients receive. As a result, Caucasians are 1.52 times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than Black and Latino patients being treated for major depressive disorders.


The disparity in antidepressant usage between Whites and minorities often centers on stigmas within minority communities. It’s about time the focus shifted towards how the role the attitudes of others factor into the gap.


Though I was never treated for a specific major depressive disorder, I have had painful bouts with depression and anxiety through the years – and encounters with careless doctors who bypassed obvious symptoms due to their own silly biases. Less than a year ago there was a period where I feared standing up would invite the kind of pain sure to knock me down. During one week in particular, each new day brought on an even more excruciating headache than the one before. When I did finally manage to stand up, I noticed that I had broken out in several different rashes across various parts of my body. As freaked out as I was about the exterior, I was more worried that I could barely function without needing to lay down every other hour. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.


via BLACK MAN HURTING: Do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Depression in Our Men? – Wellness & Empowerment – EBONY.


DEPRESSION: One Black Man’s Story – Wellness & Empowerment – EBONY

DEPRESSION: One Black Man’s Story – Wellness & Empowerment – EBONY. When my grades started dropping senior year of high school, I didn’t think much of it. School had never held much interest to me and I had always done just enough to “get by” anyway, so not being able to focus in Physics or AP Government wasn’t a big deal to me. And I never had many true friends, just a bunch of associates who came in out and of my life, so the fact that I closed myself off from them didn’t register as a warning sign. The sleeping in late, the not eating, the constant worrying about things that hadn’t happened…I thought I was just being my normal, neurotic self.

But staring in the mirror, wondering how much blood there would be if I bashed my head against it, wasn’t normal. Sitting at the dinner table thinking about taking the knife I’m using to cut my steak to slit my wrists, wasn’t normal. Something was missing.

I had thought about suicide before, but never in any real way. It was always a “what if?” Now, it had become a “maybe I should…” I learned firsthand what the true meaning of the word “depression” was.

Something was missing, but I had no idea what.

I “got over” it though. I moved past it. I never spoke a word of it to anyone. I was “better.”

Two years later, I wasn’t just “better”, I thought I was completely “cured.” I spent the summer in Atlanta working a well-paying internship, going to concerts every week, meeting some of my heroes, just enjoying life.

Then I bought the Gnarls Barkley album, St. Elsewhere. I was taken aback. I realized I wasn’t too far removed from the space Cee-Lo was singing from. The isolation, the helplessness, the feeling of being trapped inside your own mind and it being locked from the outside and there is no one around to pick the key up from under the welcome mat to let you out…these feelings were all too familiar. I never spoke a word of it to anyone. No matter. Cee-Lo was doing that for me.

There’s a song toward the middle of the album called “Just a Thought” that is a hauntingly accurate description of what goes through a person’s mind while suffering from severe depression. Each verse ends with the phrase “…and I tried, everything but suicide, but it crossed my mind.” I could only nod silently in agreement as he belted out the most secret of my thoughts for the whole world to hear.

African-American Women and Depression

Stigma of mental illness: treating African American women for depressionPosted on July 28, 2010 by shlimentalhealth

Providers who successfully treat African-American women understand that treatment has to be personalized: contextually relevant to the client’s life. Black folks as a rule take extreme exception to being treated as “a case” of a diagnostic category. The quality of the interpersonal relationship regardless of the type of treatment is crucial to effective care outcomes.
One of the things that would help reduce the stigma of depressive illness is to more widely inform clients that: mild to moderate depression may be effectively treated with psychotherapy; and medication is more likely to be effective in severe cases of depression in concert with psychotherapy.
Our women need to know that therapy will help their unique and highly personal situation with clear benefits:
I can talk to somebody who will understand (my situation, race, religion, and family contexts).
I can change how I think view situations and think more positively in the moment.
I can learn about healthy options and practice preventative strategies.
I can practice new behaviors that will bring me peace of mind and/or social success.
I can get the emotional support that I need without burdening my family and friends.
I can learn to become more confident, empowered.
I can learn how to let go and let others do things for me sometimes.
I can feel worthy, unashamed, attractive, smart…
I can feel healthier, stronger, sleep better, eat wisely…feel well again.
More African-American women who have been successfully treated for depression need to have their stories publicized or shared among friends/family so that the word gets out: “I had issues and dealt with them. Hallelujah!”
Reference: Dr. Carlene Smith, Ph.D. 
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