Why We Suffer Alone: Anxiety Disorders and African American Women

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Talk to anyone in the African American community over the age of 40 about seeking treatment for anxiety and over 50% will say, "I'll be okay, I just need to get some sleep, or "All I need to do is get this no good man out of my life and I'll be fine," or I am not crazy, I don't need no shrink asking me a lot of personal questions!" Or the classic, "Are you kidding me, I am not telling those white folks my business!" After the infamous postal worker killings in the late 1980's and early 1990's, human resources at mega companies began to realize the importance of providing mental health coverage and employee assistance programs for its work force. For the most part, there were no more shootings such as these until 2006, some 13 years after the previous one. But these are extreme cases of good gone bad and though it seldom if ever happens in the Black community, the propensity is there.

Because African American women have been conditioned to handle stress/problems, they react differently when the burden becomes too much for them to bear. Statistics indicate women are more inclined to suffer from anxiety disorders than men and are less likely to seek treatment than their white counterpart. This fact is compounded among African American women. But the majority of African American men turn to drinking or drugs to relieve stress, which brings on an abundance of other problems, such as medical issues, job loss and physical abuse to their spouse or significant other. Anxiety shows up in African American women as chronic headaches, backaches, insomnia or some other medical problem that the general practitioner is unable to diagnose. The results are high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Out of the Dark Ages

As mentioned before, treating the whole person became a priority to physicians a few decades ago. Now when a patient complains of neck or back pain, not being able to sleep or constant fatigue, the physician begins to ask questions about...