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Feeling depressed? There is help out there for you.

Feeling depressed? There is help out there for you.

Oct. 9, 2019

By Cole McClanahan

Have you ever felt blue? It’s normal if you have.

With the many stresses and pressures of life today, it would be surprising if you hadn’t felt sad at some point or another. Even the little things in life—the things that are supposed to be easy—often become difficult.

These can be things such as your commute to work, going grocery shopping or even cleaning. All are simple tasks, yet they can become aggravating and tiresome, and cause you to feel anxious or sad.

This, however, is all right. It’s healthy and normal to feel this way sometimes. What we need look out for is if these feelings continue for a period of time.

If they do, there may be larger problems than just a long drive to work. It could be a sign of depression or another mental illness.

Many people are becoming more aware of this, and they’re seeking help for it. That’s great. People shouldn’t be ashamed to reach out. There is often a stigma around seeking help for one’s mental health, but these days, we know that the brain sometimes need attention just as the heart and lungs do.

Although it is increasing, the number of people searching for solutions could be much higher.

One organization recognized this and is trying to help.

Screening for Mental Health, Inc. began National Depression Screening Day because of the millions of Americans that go undiagnosed with depression each year.

National Depression Screening Day has been held annually for nearly 30 years, on the Thursday of the first full week in October. This year, National Depression Screening Day falls on Oct. 10.

The goal of National Depression Screening Day is not only to screen people for potential cases of depression, but also to raise awareness for and educate the public on mental health. Depression affects nearly 15 million Americans each year. That’s about 6.7% of the United States’ adult population.

But not everyone realizes this. Many believe depression and mental illness is something to be dealt with internally without turning to help from other people. Hospitals, clinics and universities are trying to combat this by participating in National Depression Screening Day. To aid in this, many health care providers offering free, anonymous screenings, both in-person and online, to detect depression.

National Depression Screening Day is part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, which started on Sunday and runs through Saturday. The goal of the observance is to break this stigma and provide support to those in need.

The organization believes that screening people for mental health problems should be viewed the same way as someone being examined for diabetes or high blood pressure is. But it’s only through the public’s participation that this can occur.

In addition to screening for depression, National Depression Screening Day also has services for generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. All of these are common and treatable.

Despite the resources available, few people utilize them. Only about half of Americans diagnosed with depression each year seek treatment for it, according to Screening for Mental Health, Inc. Of those who do, nearly 80% show an improvement in the four-to-six weeks following the beginning of treatment.

Interested? Know someone else who might be? Take the time to check out the online screening at helpyourselfhelpothers.org.

Cole McClanahan is an intern in the Monongalia County Health Department's public information office.

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