Friday, December 5, 2014

Published 12:10 PM by with 0 comment

Black Men and Depression, Pt 2: PTSD

Black Men and Depression/PTSD | Yes, We Rise Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown Jr., Eric Garner


Editor's Note:  Jamesgirl wrote an informative series on Black Men and Depression. Be sure to read her other posts on this topic and explore her insights on this important mental health issue within the black communityBlack Men & Depression, pt.1 and Black Men & Depression, pt. 3: Suicide

Reflections of American racism against black men

In reflecting on Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin and how their stories and those of many other black males in America who have been killed due to racial profiling and excessive, deadly force used by police departments across the nation my focus turns to the state of quiet panic those who remain must feel. Those that look like them, travel in similar circles or routines, those who are coming from the store like Trayvon or in an encounter with police like Mike or driving, walking, breathing while black and male.

They may not say they are afraid or on edge, but something about them does, their actions seem skewed. For instance, there is a list of rules for black men when they engage with the police that suggest such unnatural responses to being unfairly treated. Keep your hands visible even if asked to produce legal papers; be polite, stay calm and avoid physical contact with police even if they become aggressive. These are some of the rules for black men in police encounters. Inherent in these rules is the stripping of black men and their human and legal right to defend themselves and question. 

Black men live with a threat against their lives that I suggest impacts their lives in a way that combat soldiers' lives are affected. From the countless and nameless black men who survived the constant threat of being lynched to Emmett Till to Michael Bell to Trayvon Martin to our black nephews, sons, brothers, uncles, husbands and grandfathers. There is fear that changes, alters their sense of being. 

Where is the campaign to support our men in the PTSD that they experience? 


There is a national initiative to support the PTSD of soldiers returning from war. What do we do for our soldiers in this racist war in America that we have been fighting since the beginning of the Middle Passage?

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs the definition, symptoms and development of PTSD are as follows:

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur after you have been through a traumatic event. A traumatic event is something terrible and scary that you see, hear about, or that happens to you, like:

· Combat exposure
· Child sexual or physical abuse
· Terrorist attack
· Sexual or physical assault
· Serious accidents, like a car wreck
· Natural disasters, like a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake

How does PTSD develop?

In information obtained from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, most people who go through a trauma have some symptoms at the beginning. Only some will develop PTSD over time. It isn't clear why some people develop PTSD and others don't. Whether or not you get PTSD depends on many things:

· How intense the trauma was or how long it lasted
· If you were injured or lost someone important to you
· How close you were to the event
· How strong your reaction was
· How much you felt in control of events
· How much help and support you got after the event

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.


There are four types of symptoms of PTSD:

1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)
2. You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you're going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
3. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
4. You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
5. Negative changes in beliefs and feelings
6. The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel fear, guilt, or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. This is another way to avoid memories.
7. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)
8. You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. This is known as hyperarousal.

The implications of possible PTSD for black men living in America are vast from understanding the way PTSD can cause other life challenges such as depression, addiction, unemployment, etc to how ongoing PTSD has shaped the psyche of our men and altered their sense of comfort and peace.

Let’s start a discussion. I would like to hear stories or responses from brothers and your experiences as a black men in America and how it has impacted your mental health. Let’s turn the light on depression and PTSD among our men.

**  Jamesgirl **
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