There has long been a debate on whether racism causes PTSD in African Americans, and, according to a new study, violence in Black neighborhoods does cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the African-American community, and it seems Black women are hit the hardest.
The study published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in December found that many African-American women in disadvantaged communities suffer from PTSD. “A recent Northwestern Medicine study that examined the South Side neighborhood of Oakland found that 29 percent of the 72 African-American study participants have the disorder and an additional 7 percent exhibited a large number of signs that are part of a PTSD diagnosis,” reported The Chicago Tribune. “Researchers said they believe that points to a need for more mental health services and screenings in poor neighborhoods.”
The National Institute of Mental Health defines PTSD as a potentially debilitating anxiety disorder that often develops following experiencing a “shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” And this definition relates to the experiences of many in Black communities who have had loved ones become victims of violent deaths or they themselves victims of a violent crime.
Living in an environment of poverty and violence can trigger PTSD or subthreshold PTSD, which means that several symptoms characterizing PTSD are present.
“Sometimes the PTSD is missed or a lot of times, it could be the patient not being forthcoming with past trauma or past physical abuse, and it’s something that is definitely out there,” said Dr. Michael Malone, who worked in the violence-ridden Chicago neighborhood of Englewood for 11 years before spending the past four years in Bronzeville. He said he has many patients who are dealing with trauma and struggling with PTSD. “Unfortunately in the inner city where we are, that’s something that needs to be addressed more, and the study was right on. As I’m reading through it, I’m thinking of different patients in my head that we’ve diagnosed.”