National Depression Screening Day

Today is National Depression Screening Day!   How many of us have come face to face with depression in our lives or in the lives of people we know and love?   Depression is something that affects men and women of all ages, races and socioeconomic groups.   Screening for Mental Inc. has created a tool that will help determine whether someone is suffering from depression.   Since one in four women and one in ten men, will experience depression at some point in their lifetime.   Two-thirds of those suffering from depression will seek no help and can co-occur or complicate other medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, cancer, stroke and HIV/AIDS.   Clinical depression is among the highest form of depression and will affect more than 19 million American adults each year.   About 80 percent of them will effectively be treated with medication, psychotherapy and or a combination of them both.   This screening tool does not indicate a professional diagnosis, but will help to pinpoint the presence of depression.

Where symptoms that persist for more than 2 weeks, you should seek medical help.  Symptoms you may experience are:  persistent sadness, anxiety, sleeping too little or too much.  Reduced appetite, weight loss or the reverse.  Loss in pleasurable activities, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.   Feeling fatigued and thoughts of death or suicide.    Depression is a serious illness that can be treated if help is sought.   There are several forms of depression:  Major depressive disorder,  dysthymic disorder, minor depression, psychotic depression, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder and bipolar depression.

There are other types of illnesses that can co-exist with depression too.   Anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder.   The National Institute of Mental Health, funded a study indicating that more than 40 percent of people with PTSD suffered depression 4 months after the traumatic event occurred.    Alcohol and other substance abuse/dependence can also co-exist along with mood disorders.    Research has discovered that while treating depression, medical illnesses have also improved.

Researchers believe that depression can be caused by genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors.  Some forms of depression tend to run in families, yet occur in people without family histories too.   So why are some genes making people more prone to depression than other’s?  Some genetic research indicates that depression can result from several genes acting together from environmental and other factors.   Trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any other type of stressful situation can trigger a depressive episode; while other’s may have no obvious trigger at all.

Research indicates that depression is seen in more women than men, based on biological, life cycle, hormonal and psycho-social factors.    In men we see changes in loss of pleasurable activities, irritability, tiredness and sleeping difficulties and they are more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs than women.   Men may become angry, confused, discouraged and sometimes abusive, while some become workaholics to avoid talking about it.    Children and teenagers also experience depression, symptoms to watch out for are; refusing to go to school, clinging to a parent, pretending to be sick, getting into trouble, sulking, showing signs of negativity and becoming irritable.  This age group can often be difficult to diagnose, and will often lead to a higher risk of suicide.   It will also co-occur with anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse.

Your first step in receiving help is to make an appointment with your doctor or mental health provider.   If they conclude that there are no other causes for your depression, then they will refer you for a psychological evaluation.   They will look at family history, review your list of symptoms, how and when these symptoms occur and look at substance or alcohol abuse.   The most common treatments available are psychotherapy and medications.

What can you do to help to a friend or family member?  Offer emotional support by being understanding and patient.  If they talk about suicide, report them to a healthcare professional, family member or close friend.   Invite them out, and remind them that with time and treatment, the depression will lift.    If you are depressed?   Seek help and don’t wait too long before symptoms become unbearable.   Try exercising, getting together with friends, setting realistic goals for yourself and find a friend or family member to confide in.   Don’t make any major changes until the depression lifts and don’t expect it to get better overnight.   Most importantly, educate those around you as well as yourself.