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DEPRESSION:

not a character flaw, but a real illness

A broken leg means a trip to the emergency room. Chronic back pain leads to a battery of tests and time off work. Even a virus will get you some words of sympathy. But if you say you have depression, there’s a good chance you’ll get a quizzical look and dumb silence. Depression is a serious illness affecting one in 10 Americans. And while the medical establishment has long known how serious depression can be, it still remains something of a mystery to many people. Often, the advice to someone who admits to a friend that they have depression is “it’ll pass” or “shake it off.” Because there are no bandages or crutches involved, there’s a tendency for friends, colleagues and even family to mistake clinical depression as simply a case of the “blues.” While studies vary somewhat on the exact percentages, it is generally believed that about 50 percent of Americans see .

• Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts Looking at the list, it’s not hard to see how someone suffering with depression could conceivably “explain away” their depression. But this situation is gradually changing. One important stride that’s been made is in the area of screenings for depression. Put simply, a screening is a questionnaire that gives the participant a clearer idea of whether or not they may have symptoms of depression and should seek clinical help. They are not meant to be diagnostic, but at the same time they are an anonymous, “low exposure” first step. And they are, intrinsically, educational. If you, or someone you know, may be suffering from depression, you can visit www.helpyourselfhelpothers. org to take a screening.It is free, anonymous and available 24/7. Another step along the education road is National Depression Screening Day, which occurs on the Thursday of the first full week of each October. The screenings are held on college campuses, in high schools, community halls anad other public venues. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger because of thoughts of suicide, call 911 immediately. If there is no immediate danger but rather a need to talk to someone, call the national suicide prevention line at 800-273-TALK (800-2738255).

depression as a personal depression). weakness and a similar perAccording to the National centage of people suffering Institute of Mental Health, from depression don’t seek symptoms of depression may treatment. include the following: “Being a mental health • Difficulty concentrating, care professional, these remembering details and statistics are absolutely making decisions alarming,” says Dr. Douglas • Fatigue and decreased G. Jacobs, associate clinienergy cal professor of psychiatry • Feelings of guilt, worthat Harvard Medical School lessness and/or helplessand the founder of Screening ness for Mental Health, Inc. “We • Feelings of hopelessness have to bridge this underand/or pessimism standing gap and the only • Insomnia, early-morning way is through education - in wakefulness or excessive schools, in the mainstream sleeping media, through the work of • Irritability, restlessness nonprofits, in fact by any • Loss of interest in acmeans necessary.” tivities or hobbies once One can observe the “unpleasurable, including derstanding gap” in everyday sex life. The word “depression” is • Overeating or appetite often used to describe simply loss “feeling down” - the bad days • Persistent aches or or weeks that soon pass. But pains, headaches, when those feelings last two cramps or digestive weeks or more, they could problems that do not be signs of actual depresease even with treatment -Article Resource Association sion (formally called major • Persistent sad, anxious depressive disorder or clinical or “empty” feelings Thursday, October 18, 2012 LOVELAND REPORTER-HERALD / Health Line of Northern Colorado 15

Healthline  

Living healthy and well in Loveland.

Healthline  

Living healthy and well in Loveland.

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