Is Getting Treatment for Depression Still a Stigma in the Black Community: Dr.O Weighs In

I was appalled to see someone on Facebook write, “People with depression simply need Jesus.” This really upset me because I am just wondering if we would tell a person with a blood pressure of 180/135 that they would ONLY need Jesus. This stigma is still in our community. What is worse, do we realize that suicide is still running rampaged in our communities? We really need to take inventory in the Black community. There needs to be an assessment of what our real needs are at this time.

First off, I must just give you a brief review of what major depression really is; the DSM-IV criteria requires at least two weeks of a 1) depressed mood and or 2) anhedonia (lost of interest in just about all activities).  You also need to have at least five of the neuro-vegetative symptoms of this disorder as well.

1) Too much or too little sleep

2) Lack of interest in regular activities

3) Guilty or feelings of hopelessness

4)Lack or loss of energy

5) Concentration difficulty

6) Eating too much or too little

7) Feeling very sluggish or too agitated

8) Suicidal ideation or a plan.

This illness can be deemed as a Psychiatric Emergency if left untreated. However, if treated we have great success. The problem is people have to locate competent and compassionate mental health providers that understand, as well as, know how to deal with this disease and its many faces.

This time of year,  Thanksgiving and Christmas offer some special challenges that I will share with you in the weeks to come. But I would be remissed if I did not tell you that there is hope for those suffering from this illness. Don’t be afraid to share with your doctors the low mood or feelings that you have been feeling lately. It is alright to reflect back on some of your losses this year, but you cannot let that feeling control your ability to move forward. Many of you have suffered divorce, sickness and even loss of jobs but as long as you are still breathing, there is still hope.

There are many different ways of challenging and treating depression.  Some people may just need supportive psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. Others will surely need medication management. Many people want to know or ask the dreaded question, “Dr.Owens how long do I have to stay on medications?” Let me give you just a quick reference of what my train of thought is concerning this issue.

  • If this is your first episode of depression usually 9 months to a year would be sufficient clinically.
  • If this is your second episode of depression, you may want to stay in care for 3-5 years.
  • If this is your third episode of depression, you will need to most probably see someone for the rest of your life.

These are just some general rules. Don’t panic but simply let your physician be your guide and point of reference. I simply want to share that depression is a monster that is real and just because you are feeling a little low doesn’t mean that you are weak or need Jesus. You can be saved, sanctified and even filled with the Holy Ghost but still fight the demon of depression.  Just remember we are her for you so if you need help feel free to reach out to our office at (404) 575-4785.

Also, if the source of your depression is secondary to a bad relationship, check out my book at “Am I in a Bad Relationship?”



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