3 Ways Black Women Can Fight Depression

Destiny's Child Member, Michelle Williams, opened up about her battle with depression and thoughts of suicide. 

During her co-hosting gig on “The Talk”, Michelle shared her story and revealed she began suffering from the disorder between the ages of 13 and 15.

Williams said “So many people are walking around acting like they’ve got it all together and they’re suffering. For years, I was in one of the top-selling female groups of all time, suffering with depression.”

By reason of Michelle courageously speaking on her personal experiences with depression and the stigma associated mental illness, it made me think of the countless women who are walking around pretending to have it all together but quietly screaming on the inside and suffering from depression. African-American women with lower socio-economic status have an increased risk of depressive disorders, yet they rarely seek out antidepressants or psychotherapy because of negative attitudes and stigma associated with conventional mental health treatments.

Tending to your mental health is just as important as tending to your physical health. Studies show that depression can increase the risk of death from heart disease and cancer.  Studies also show that mindfulness-based interventions effectively alleviate symptoms of depression and stress.  31 African American women participated in a 16-week study of utilizing these interventions reported an increase in well-being and were able to recognize stressful triggers in their lives, notice how their bodies react to triggers and learn how to gain more control over their physiological responses to stress. 

Adding some mindfulness techniques to your everyday lives (2.5 hours per week) could save your life.

 

Here are 3 Mindfulness Techniques to Fight Depression:

Meditation

According to Psychology Today, Meditation is the practice of turning your attention to a single point of reference. It basically means turning your attention away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment. 

If you're a beginner like me, here are some steps provided by GAIAM

  1. Sit or lie comfortably. You may even want to invest in a meditation chair or cushion.
  2. Close your eyes. 
  3. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
  4. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.

Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods. 

Yoga

According to MedicalNewsToday, Yoga is a mind and body practice with historical origins in ancient Indian philosophy. Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation. This practice has been proven to significantly reduce anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. 

Need some tutorials on how to start? Here's a video to get you started from YouTube:

Mental Body Scans

Mental Body Scans

Mental body scan is an exercise to basically become aware of your body. While it is not intended to relax your body, it often does so as it is typically performed in the same manner as mediating. When we're really stressed, we may be feeling physical discomfort but not connect it with our emotions. Through mental body scans, you are able to identify what you are feeling and where you're feeling it, and learn to release the stress in your body and mind. 

Being able to recognize and separate ourselves from the strong thoughts and emotions we experience can help us learn how to regulate our moods more effectively, according to Care2 Healthy Living.

Listen to the audio below to help you get started:

"These practices help [to]  take a step back and live in the moment versus worrying about what's already happened or what's to come," said Inger Burnett-Zeigler, Assistant Professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "People who are depressed or who have depressive symptoms often have tunnel vision, whereby they're only seeing information in the environment that supports their negative beliefs." Mindfulness techniques will help you to take a mindful pause to be in the moment. 

Today, I challenge you to use some of these techniques to reduce your symptoms of stress and depression. 

What are some other things that you do to reduce your stress and depression? Share in the comments below.

Later FABs!