Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is known for his work in the Civil Rights Movement and nonviolent activism against racial inequality. MLK is importantly considered one of the most influential leaders in U.S history who suffered from depression.
It is a common mental health disorder that affects people of different ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities. People who suffer from depression may experience persistent sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness.
Symptoms can also manifest as anger or irritation, such as feeling like everything is an effort to do something. Depression is a disease that impacts brain chemistry and spreads into all aspects of life.
MLK Growing Up
MLK experienced both ups and downs growing up. An exceptional kid, he skipped his last two years of high school and enrolled at Morehouse College when he was 15.
On the other hand, following his grandmother’s passing from a heart attack on May 18, 1941, MLK attempted suicide twice by 13.
MLK Sr. noted, Martin Luther King, Jr, jumped from the second-floor window of his house after her death. He went on that Jr. would have crying spells, and was unable to sleep.
Dr. King had bouts of severe depression in adulthood. As we are still fighting the stigma around mental health today, he was concerned that people who opposed the civil rights movement would use it as a way to discredit him. As a result, he kept his symptoms a secret.
Stigma in the Black Community
Fundamental research suggests that the rates of depression in African-Americans are roughly equal to or slightly less than Whites.
However, much of the research into Black people and depression find that it lasts longer in African-Americans than Whites. They may have other health issues, too, such as addiction, PTSD, and generalized anxiety.
Certainly, mental health stigma is strong in Black communities. Moreover, it affects Black men more strongly.
Stigma might affect someone who has depression, so they:
- Instead of seeking treatment, many people avoid seeking help because they are afraid of admitting they have a problem.
- Think that their depression is all in their head or the result of being a failure
- Feel like they’re letting others down or like they don’t deserve help from others.
- Worry about how racism in the medical industry affects their mental healthcare experience.
RELATED ARTICLE: 55 Mental Health Resources for People of Color
What treatments are available?
However prevalent mental health stigma is in the Black Community, we don’t have to suffer in silence. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, symptoms can be managed with treatment. Many people have to experiment with different treatments to find which one works best.
The most common treatments for depression include:
- Self-care is the act where people put themselves first every day. Self-care includes getting enough quality sleep.
- There are a variety of medications you can take for depression. A person might need to try different ones or different doses of one to feel better.
- Going into therapy is a great idea. You’ll be able to process negative emotions, strengthen your coping skills, heal your relationships, and understand the connection between your thoughts and feelings.
- Lifestyle changes like more exercise and healthy eating can make a huge difference
- Some people with severe depression might need to stay at a residential rehab center
- A growing number of people find additional support from CBD, meditation, and other alternatives.
CBD for Depression: What Would MLK Do?
Now it’s 2022 and cannabis research is spreading worldwide. What stance would Reverend Martin Luther King Jr might have taken on CBD as a potential weapon to combat mental health issues.
Would he himself sought to treat his symptoms of depression with medicinal cannabis?
Dr. Livingston, the Senior Pastor of the Church of God by Faith #1 in Gainesville, Florida offers his point of view stating,
“I see pain daily. I lay hands on them, I do all the spiritual things I need to do, but sometimes the pain continues. So, compassionately, I want to support whatever it takes to relieve pain. If a doctor prescribes medical marijuana, you have my support. I’m not going to put you on the altar and send you to hell.”
RELATED ARTICLE: How to Get an MMJ Recommendation – A Clear-Cut Guide
This MLK Jr. day, amid change and hope, let’s pay tribute to him by opening conversations every day with individuals in our communities suffering from mental illness.
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