Depression Affects Men of Color Too: The Signs and How to Spot Them
Mental health is notorious for being a taboo topic in communities of color.
But when suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24-year-old Black boys and men, it’s time we speak about it more. May was mental health awareness month, however, National Men's Mental Health Week is upon us, June 13-19 2022. Before then, let's talk about signs of depression in Black men
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide and right at home in our backyards, and it’s extremely easy for it to go unnoticed and untreated, especially among men of color. As a result, you might brush off your child’s frequent periods of sadness as just the “blues,” or maybe even dismiss your own feelings as “not a big deal.”
Regardless of how you look at it, the problem is that depression is a big deal, and men of color aren’t getting help for it. According to the National Health Interview Survey, only 26% of Black and Hispanic men ages 18 to 44 who reported daily feelings of depression or anxiety were likely to have used mental health services. And that’s compared to the 45% of White men with the same feelings.
It’s essential that men of color get help for any feelings of depression, but in order to do that, they need to know how to spot it:
The emotional and physical signs of depression
We’d all like to think that we’d know when someone close to us is going through something as difficult as depression, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s hard to see the symptoms. So, here’s an overview of common signs of depression in men below:
● Sleeping too much or too little
● Increased feelings and expressions of anger, frustration, and aggression
● Problems with sexual desire or performance
● Increased use of alcohol and drugs
● Engaging in more risk-taking behavior
● Problems with concentration
● Weight loss or gain
● Physical aches, back pain, headaches, cramps, and digestive issues
● Inability to meet responsibilities at work and home
● Withdrawing socially
● Attempting suicide
The signs of depression present themselves differently in men and women, and that’s important to keep in mind as you monitor yourself or someone else for symptoms. For example, research evidence shows that behavioral changes like increased anger and aggression, substance abuse, and risk-taking are more prominent signs of depression in men.
Can men of color mask their depression?
Depression can go unnoticed in men of color and all men due to societal influences pushing men to adhere to masculine norms. It can be argued that toxic masculinity makes it harder for men to express how they’re feeling or admit that they need help. But in the world of psychology, this attempt to conceal one’s depression is described as “masked depression.”
Some research even suggests that when men try to hide their depression for too long, it results in aggressive or self-destructive behavior signs. So with that in mind, it’s important that when on the lookout for depression in men, you’re quick to see a Black man or man of color’s anger as a potential sign of depression—and not a personality trait.
When to seek help for depression in men of color
As soon as you notice any changes that you suspect are signs of depression, it’s best to see a doctor. A health care professional or doctor can diagnose and treat depression or give you other treatment options such as talking to a therapist.
Just because you can’t see depression doesn’t mean it has no effect. The sooner you get help, the better. So if you, or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of depression, this is your sign to get help today.