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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Monday, July 6, 2015

Why African Americans Generally Don't Seek Help For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

African Americans suffering from PTSD

Trauma, defined as an emotional shock resulting from a serious life event, affects millions of Americans. One in five Americans suffer post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result, but only 60 percent seek help. Trauma-related mental disorders such as PTSD are 20 percent higher among the African American community than in white communities, yet they are also the least likely to seek help.

Why not to suffer in silence

African Americans who suffer from mental disorders are less likely to get help. Why? Because within the black culture, mental illness is not generally discussed at all. They prefer to solve their own problems. But by remaining silent about their illness, they are often preventing themselves from healing and living a normal life.

In the wake of the recent murders at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., many African Americans are reminded of other race-related acts of violence that can easily lead them to experience PTSD. The only way to heal is by facing the pain and seeking help from others.

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD symptoms include anger, withdrawal, anxiety, feeling emotional, irritability, and resorting to alcohol or drugs. Suffering in silence is not the answer, and reliance on alcohol or drugs will not take away the pain.

President Obama's advice

Even President Obama recognized that many will suffer as a result of this traumatic event. In the eulogy he delivered for Reverend Clementa Pinckney and others who lost their lives that day, he mentioned the importance of "acknowledging the pain and loss of others," not letting "ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence," and that "difficult conversations about race are essential to our nation’s healing."

For more details on how to deal with PTSD, visit
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