Male Minorities at Higher Risk for PTSD, Depression Because of Violence

Minority men have a greater chance of being victims of violence, as well as a higher risk for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from that violence.

Authors of a study by the American Psychological Association, John Rich, Erica J. Harris, Sandra L. Bloom, Linda Rich, and Theodore Corbin, say that in 2012, 23 percent of males between 10 and 24-years-old treated in emergency rooms for non-fatal injuries were African-American, even though African-American males in the same age range only make up 17 percent of the overall population. Overall, as of 2005, just 13 percent of the U.S. population was African-American, but African-Americans were the victims in 15 percent of non-fatal assaults and 50 percent of homicides, and 85 percent of those homicide victims were male.

As Bad as a War Zone

Mother Jones says those men are as likely to suffer from PTSD as service members who go to war. At Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, forty-three percent of patients in the trauma center, many of whom were gunshot victims, showed signs of PTSD. Minority men who have the disorder as a result of violence typically face flashbacks, nightmares, paranoia, and social withdrawal. Having PTSD also puts these men at a higher risk for substance abuse.

Mother Jones reports that the PTSD rate among the general population is eight percent. However, rates soar in inner city enclaves with a majority African-American population. Researchers in Atlanta found that one in three inner city residents they interviewed had PTSD symptoms. While the Atlanta study involved both men and women, a Los Angeles study found that young male victims of violence had a high rate of PTSD, particularly if they’d been attacked before. Fully 27 percent of the study participants showed PTSD symptoms.

High Depression Risk, Low Treatment Rates

Depression also strikes male minorities and puts them at a greater risk for suicide. While the American Medical Association says that Whites have the highest prevalence of major depressive disorder, it’s more persistent for African-Americans and Caribbean-Americans. They’re more likely to suffer from chronic depression and less likely to seek treatment, with less than half of Black depression victims reaching out for professional help. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for African-American males in the 15 to 24 age range.

The National Center for PTSD offers a variety of help options. Although some are geared toward veterans, many, such as the therapist finder tool, are appropriate for violence victims. Support is also available online through PTSD United, where men of color can connect with others in similar circumstances. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has a comprehensive resource list as well. Men suffering from depression and considering self-harm can call the NationalSuicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

A survey showed that young African-American crime victims also ask for a range of services not traditionally offered to such victims. They wanted help getting out of violent environments, assistance in getting their GEDs, and help getting jobs. Resources exist for all of these options, but they generally don’t take the effects of trauma into consideration. They must be coupled with treatment for PTSD and depression to be effective.