Harlem Word: Dr. Sidney Hankerson talks about getting treatment for depression

Editor April 3rd, 2014

Dr. Sidney Hankerson is a psychiatrist who is currently working at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.  His work focuses on mental health, and he discusses the importance of getting treatment for depression and how to get it if you need it.

Q. How can we recognize and treat depression?
A. The first thing is, if you have a primary care provider who you trust, talk with them about depression, anxiety, or whatever the concern may be.  In fact, studies show that African Americans are more likely to get help from their primary doctor than go see a psychiatrist or a psychologist. The second thing is if you have questions, there’s a lot of information available on the Internet, especially at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).  It’s a great organization with information about depression and ways to connect to people who can give needed care.

Q. Are there any resources in Northern Manhattan that could help people who may be suffering from depression?
A. As I mentioned before, I would start out with the National Alliance on Mental Illness as it is the best online resource for general mental health information. Then, for local information, you can check out the New York State Psychiatric Institute website.  There’s a lot of free treatment that we provide here in Washington Heights, so those two are the major resources that I would recommend people to look at first.

Q.  Many people feel very sensitive or embarrassed about having a mental illness like depression. What do you think about this?
A. It’s okay to admit that you have depression, just as it’s okay for someone who has diabetes or high blood pressure or cancer to not be embarrassed about their illnesses.  There are a lot of treatments that are available for depression– medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of these. Mainly, it is important to admit that you may be struggling with something and then get the care that you need because depression can seriously hurt your everyday life, work, and your relationships with others.

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