Today is National Depression Screening Day (NDSD), and while it may not be a subject that people want to talk about, it’s an important issue that needs to be discussed. As someone who has been personally affected by depression and suicide, I know first hand the importance of this day. Today is a day to learn more about depression if not for yourself than for a loved one or friend who may be depressed and suffering silently, as well as to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. Like many other health conditions, depression can be treated and should be viewed and treated in the same way as any other physical health issue.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one in ten U.S. adults report depression and globally, more than 350 million people suffer from the mental health disorder. Depression is more than just having a bad day, a bad week or even a bad year. Depression is a treatable mental health disorder that causes ongoing sadness and a continued loss of interest in your daily life and things you once enjoyed. Signs of depression include a change in sleep and appetite, trouble concentrating, a loss of energy, low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness, withdrawing from friends and family and recurring thoughts of death or suicide.
Symptoms of depression usually lost for at least two weeks or longer and interfere with all areas of a person’s life from family and friends to work life. It can stem from a number of different causes ranging from genetics, life experiences, brain chemistry imbalance, hormone changes, substance abuse and other illnesses. One third of people who suffer from a chronic illness, like cancer, heart attack or Parkinson’s disease, also experiences depression.
Two-thirds of people who suffer from depression don’t seek treatment. The reasons why people choose not to seek help can be for a variety of reasons, either they are too ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help or they see their depression as just being a part of “normal life” or just a phase that they can tough out on their own. More than 80 percent of cases of depression however can be treated with medication, therapy or a combination of both.
The most important thing you can do if you know someone who is depressed is to help them seek a diagnosis and treatment by visiting their doctor. Once they have been diagnosed and are being treated, it’s important to offer emotional support and to encourage them to continue their treatment.
Screenings for depression are often times the first step into getting help. In recognition of National Depression Screening Day, you can complete an anonymous assessment for yourself or a loved one through www.HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org.
Below are a few great resources to learn more about depression or how you can find help for yourself or for a loved one:
- Mental Health Screening: http://mentalhealthscreening.org
- National Alliance of Mental Health: http://www.nami.org
- National Institute of Mental Health:
- To Write Love On Her Arms: http://twloha.com
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (Phone) 800.273.8255