Anxiety is one of the most common reasons for women to seek therapy. For Black women, anxiety is often more chronic and the symptoms more intense than white women.
To understand anxiety and Black women, you need to understand how Black women are viewed. There are three basic images which we see of Black women, the Strong Black Woman, the Angry Black Woman, and the Overly Sexual Black woman.. These images affect how other people see Black women and how we see ourselves. They also play a role in the development of anxiety.
Strong Black Women -There are some positive aspects about being a Strong Black Woman, but there are also many negatives. A Strong Black Woman will keep going even when she knows she should stop, this places her mental and physical health at risk.
An Angry Black Woman is perceived as a woman who is always ready to “cuss” you out. I have found that many women who are perceived this way are actually very anxious. The anger is often an outward expression of their discomfort with the negativity associated with anxiety.
The Overly Sexual Black Woman used to be referred to as a Jezebel, which comes from the Biblical Queen who was said to have turned her husband against God. Since slavery, Black women have been sexualized in derogatory ways Today this is often seen in rap and hip-hop videos.
In workplaces, college and professional settings around the country, Black women often find themselves to be the only one. In these situations, we have often been taught that we have to be twice as good, that we are representing the race and that we are being watched more closely than our white counterparts. These beliefs along with the Strong Black Woman image often increases the risk for social anxiety.
The rate of sexual assault among Black women is reported to be 3.5 times higher than that of any other group in this country. Black women are also less likely to report their assault. Many never share with anyone what has happened to them. The trauma will remain untreated and the symptoms will worsen.
Racism is another form of trauma that affects Black women. Trauma in the form of racism can be directly or indirectly experienced. Driving while Black, shopping while Black, and racial micoraggressions are direct examples of racial trauma. Indirect examples are videos of unarmed Black women and men being killed.
Thankfully, the stigma associated with seeking help for anxiety and other mental health issues is disappearing. Remember that with the help of a good therapist you can reclaim your life from anxiety. I was able to reclaim my life and so can you.