It’s Not New To Us, It’s True To Us

Did you see the article I shared on IG referencing a Dec 13, 2022 study that noted that Black women with symptoms of depression more often report sleep disturbance, self-criticism, and irritability than stereotypical symptoms such as depressed mood, according to a new study led by a researcher at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing?


As a Black female therapist treating Black women for more than 25 years, this is no surprise to me or other Black and brown therapists and health providers. Who needs to know this is White nonminority providers and nonminority allied medical health professionals who are inappropriately assessing Black women who experience mood and anxiety disorders.

In 2018, I wrote a book entitled Women of Color Talk: Psychological Narratives on Trauma and Depression and there is a whole chapter written to this reported “ news” about Black women and depression.

I wrote, “…her (the Black woman) expression of pain tells the story of victimization, trauma, and loss.
“I’m tired.”
“I’m overwhelmed.”
“I’m stressed. I don’t know what I feel. I’m numb.”
“Some days I don’t want to get out of bed. If I could sleep all day, I would.”
“If I didn’t have my kids, I’d just give up.”
“I’m falling apart.”

None of this is written in a diagnostic manual on how to interview Black women experiencing depression. Yet, we use archaic and culturally inappropriate assessment tools to make a diagnostic impression that under-treats the Black women who need treatment.

Dear Black woman, you must be an advocate for your health care-mental and physical. Do not let anyone minimize your pain or deny your symptoms as serious. We have suffered in silence for far too long.

If you are experiencing any of the following, I want you to consider talking to a professional:

1. A disconnect from your authentic and true sense of self.
2. A disconnection from your healthy thought life.
3. A disconnection from one’s body and to the physical self.
4. A disconnection from one’s power source, higher power, or belief system.
5. A disconnection from family, friends, and other social support is necessary for successful recovery.
6. A disconnection from one’s sense of belonging in this world because of racial/gender/ethnic disparities.

As you can see my clinical definition of depression is about the whole person, not just what signs/symptoms of how a mental health disorder manifests.

Now to my colleagues, let’s focus on how to provide training for allied psychiatric and medical health professionals who do not consider these factors. The experience of depression for Black women is real but often poorly assessed and treated.

To call it what it is, depression, we need to help Black women shift their attitudes towards mental health and fight for their healing.

To learn more about this topic and more, be sure to connect with me across all my social media and sign up for our Legacy Leaders newsletter.

In your wellness,

Dr. Clack