Black men who repress responses to racism experience more depression


African-American men who believe they should respond to acts of racial discrimination with emotional control experience more depression than those who act on their own indignation. This is according to a new study from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“We know that traditional role expectations are that men will restrict their emotions – or ‘take stress like a man,’” said author Wizdom Power Hammond, PhD, assistant professor of health behavior in UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. “However, the more tightly some men cling to these traditional role norms, the more likely they are to be depressed. It also is clear that adherence to traditional role norms is not always harmful to men. But we don’t know a lot about how these norms shape how African-American men confront stressors, especially those that are race-related.”

Hammond studied something called everyday racism which is the kind of subtle racism that happened every day in persistent small ways.

“It chips away at people’s sense of humanity and very likely at their hope and optimism,” said Hammond. “We don’t know why some men experience depression while others do not.”

Everyday racism triggered depression across all age groups, younger men more so than other ages. The results were more relationships than causal explanations.

“It seems as though there may be a cumulative burden or long-term consequences of suffering such persistent discriminator slights and hassles in silence,” Hammond explained. “Or next task is to determine when embracing traditional role norms are harmful or helpful to African-American men’s mental health.”

Hammond pointed out that not all African-American men are alike. Still, it is important to find the ones that are vulnerable to depressive symptoms and intervene early.

Source: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, MedicalNewsToday


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