We’re going to get through this together!
This time of the year brings crisp fall temperatures as we get prepared for the winter season and the celebration of numerous holidays. For some of us, this means family, food, and lots and lots of laughter. But for a large number of others, the fall and winter months are the beginning of depression.
According to an NIH study, seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is characterized by depressive episodes that usually recur in a particular season and remit during the warmer months. Nearly 10 to 20 percent of recurring depression is seasonal and the statistics around those impacted vary by region, with those in northern states being impacted the most.
While many may indeed experience some form of “winter blues,” those suffering from seasonal depression may need to go see a doctor immediately, since SAD is a form of clinical depression. You’ll know if you’re at risk of seasonal depression if you experience depressive-like symptoms including lethargy, loss of interest in activities, changes to your appetite or weight, or low energy and if your symptoms start in the late fall or early winter but stop in warmer months and recur for at least two consecutive years.
“People may not appreciate how severely someone who has SAD is affected. Their life just shuts down for half the year,” Dr. Paul Desan, a Yale School of Medicine psychiatrist, told the New York Times.
Researchers are not completely sure what causes seasonal depression, pointing to a possible shift in the biological clock or even a type of negative self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever the reasoning, while symptoms differ from person to person, seasonal depression can last for nearly five months, a time period that can really disrupt a person’s entire life. Experts do have some solutions for the blues though, including bright light therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, establishing a regular outdoors routine, and antidepressant medications.
Still, all of these require some form of therapy, diagnosis and intervention and if you’re like us, you want to make sure that your therapist is a good fit. You need someone that’s not only properly vetted but also someone who understands the importance of culturally competent medical care.
Recently there has been a rise in Black mental health support from the likes of celebrities like Megan Thee Stallion and Beyonce. Megan just dropped her “Bad B—— Have Bad Days Too” website, which serves as a mental health resource offering more than 20 different resource links. Back in 2020, Beyonce donated more than $6 million to mental health initiatives servicing communities of color, the pop icon citing the rising stats of mental health crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Communities of color are suffering by epic proportions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many families live in underserved areas with homes that make it harder to practice social distancing. Communities that were already lacking funds for education, health and housing are now faced with alarming infection rates and fatalities. And these communities lack access to testing and equitable healthcare,” said Beyonce.
There has also been new technology created in service of different types of mental health and wellness support. Jade D. Kearney, the creator of She Matters, developed an app to focus on providing therapy for Black mothers who may be struggling.
“I struggled with postpartum anxiety/OCD and could not find resources allocated toward Black women. I realized that our negative cultural stigma toward mental health blended with maternal medical neglect is a dangerous combination for the mental health of Black mothers. As I began my postpartum mental health journey, I felt it was only right to create a space where Black women could go to where they felt supported and safe,” Kearney told reporters.
Despite all the many resources on the market, it still may be hard to sift through everything. To help you out on your journey and make sure we all beat seasonal depression together, we’ve listed 8 directories to help you find an affordable Black therapist below! Click each title to head to the site.
“Therapy for Black Girls is an online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls…So often the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy prevents Black women from taking the step of seeing a therapist. [Therapy for Black Girls] was developed to present mental health topics in a way that feels more accessible and relevant.”
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“TherapyForBlackMen.org was born from the idea that Black men and boys face unique challenges and stigmatization, and therefore need a dedicated space for seeking and finding mental health support. We’ve made it our mission to strip away that stigmatization and ease the process of finding help. By providing targeted resources and a database filled with professionals equipped to support men of color, our users can now obtain the help they need and deserve.”
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“BEAM is a national training, movement building, and grant-making institution that is dedicated to the healing, wellness, and liberation of Black and marginalized communities,” a statement on the website reads.
The organization is focused on removing any barriers that may prevent Black people from getting access to or staying connected to emotional health care. They center a healing justice framework that helps pinpoint ways to intervene and address generational trauma holistically.
“AYANA therapy [is] a user-friendly app…that enables matching marginalized communities with compatible licensed therapists based on their unique experiences and identities across race, gender identity, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and ability. It allows for flexible, convenient and anonymous online communication (text, call and video call) and addresses barriers to care such as transportation issues, busy schedules, and mobility challenges that people may face.”
Zencare is a platform that allows you to search for therapists based on the simplest categories such as race and gender. Their goal is to improve the therapy search process by providing a list of quality therapists who take a wide array of medical insurance and address everything from art therapy to mindfulness practices.
“Our nonprofit serves clients who lack health insurance or whose health insurance doesn’t provide adequate mental health benefits. These clients also cannot afford current market rates for therapy (between $80-200 a session). We help our members access their choice of affordable in-person or online care from a vetted mental health professional.”
“Black Therapist List (BTL) is a directory of Black Therapists that was created in 2020 by a Black Psychotherapist in Ontario, Canada. BTL was created so that Black people who are seeking mental health support could have one central hub to locate Black Therapists in their area. There are many barriers to Black people seeking out mental health support. At BTL [they] recognize that the relationship between client and therapist is essential to positive outcomes in therapy. Having a therapist with shared cultural experiences can create a space of commonality and understanding which can make it easier for clients to open up and more likely to get the help they need. With BTL, people have the ability to filter their searches by location, specialization, etc. so they can find exactly who and what they are looking for.”
“[Black Female Therapists] was created to promote, inspire, and elevate other Black female therapists and create a safe space for Black mental health. BFT gives mental health therapists a chance to show their #Blackgirlmagic and makes it easier to connect with individuals nationwide. Not only is it a place to connect but also a safe place for Black women to discuss their mental health and wellness journey and learn new strategies to live a better life. From indulging in the newest self-care strategies to helping strategize mental health issues, we live for being a go-to daily source for all things Black Female Therapists, Self-Care, Mental Wellness, Stress Management, Travel, Relationships and Mental Health.”
Be well folks!
Beating Seasonal Depression: 8 directories to help you find an affordable Black therapist. Photo Courtesy of Getty Images