Unmasking Depression

Unmasking Depression: A Deep Dive into the Mental Health of Puerto Ricans

Over the last thirty years, rates of depression have been alarmingly high among Puerto Ricans. This trend is even more prevalent for those living on the mainland. This raises two important questions:
1. Why is this the case? and
2. How can we make a difference?

Comparison between USA & Puerto Rico

Depression is an issue that doesn’t discriminate. It can touch anyone, from any walk of life, at any age. Here are some numbers to put that into perspective.

Research in 2019 showed that:

  • 7.6% of the US population suffers from major depressive disorders.
  • For Puerto Ricans, this number is even higher at 9.6%. This means that if there’s 10 people in your family, odds are that one of you will suffer from a major depressive disorder.
  • Interestingly, islanders residing in the mainland US seem to experience slightly higher mood disorder symptoms than those living in Puerto Rico—11.2% compared to 9.9%.

Depression & its Effects

Unfortunately, depression remains a misunderstood and often stigmatized condition. It’s a complex ailment, manifesting itself in a variety of ways. It may show up as emotional states like persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness and apathy towards once enjoyable activities, Or  it could present itself physically as changes in appetite, sleep patterns, and energy levels. It doesn’t stop there—it can affect your ability to concentrate, make decisions, and seep into your work and relationships.

When searching for a cause to these ailments, the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be overlooked. An astonishing 28.6% of Latinos reported experiencing symptoms of depression during this time, with over a third grappling with moderate or severe depression and anxiety. The aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017 was equally devastating, with 253 Puerto Ricans tragically ending their own lives. In fact, Puerto Ricans have the highest rates of deaths from substance overdose among all Latin American communities – a chilling testament to the severity of the situation.

But it’s not all bad news. Despite the mental health challenges they face, Puerto Ricans on the island reportedly receive more social support than their mainland counterparts. It’s a ray of hope in an otherwise grim situation.

Acknowledging Depression

Recognizing depression is the first step towards addressing it. If you find yourself relating to feelings of depression, remember—it’s okay, and more importantly, it’s okay to ask for help.

Asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength, not weakness. Humans are a communal species and we only thrive by working together, especially when the going gets tough. Mental health professionals can help you navigate this darkness and provide suitable treatment, be it therapy, medication, or both.

Seeking Solutions & Support

For those considering seeking mental health support, the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) is a free online tool that can help you assess the severity of your depression symptoms. While this serves as a good starting point, remember that a comprehensive diagnosis should come from a qualified mental health professional.

Taking small steps towards self-care—like regular exercise, mindfulness activities, community involvement, and spending time in nature—can also make a significant difference. Having a strong support system of friends, family, and/or a therapist will also provide the encouragement you need and serve as a reminder that you are not alone.

Don’t let depression intimidate you into silence. Reach out, speak up, seek help. Your life is sacred and you deserve to feel supported, capable, and optimistic about your mental health journey.


Unite for Healing: Your Contribution, Puerto Rico's Transformation.

Embark on a journey of transformation with the Pravan Foundation. Your generous donation becomes a beacon of hope, illuminating the path to mental wellness for countless individuals in Puerto Rico. Together, let’s break down barriers, ushering in a new era of mental health and well-being.

Make a difference today – your contribution is the cornerstone of change, healing, and renewed hope across the island. Join us, and be the change that Puerto Rico needs. Unite for healing, unite for transformation, unite for a brighter tomorrow.

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