News & Press
Are you depressed? You're not alone
November 03, 2014
Posted Nov. 3, 2014 @ 2:52 pm
Last month, Oct. 9 was designated as annual National Depression Screening Day. Throughout the country, behavioral health organizations, many primary care doctors and other local health care providers offered free anonymous screenings for depression. Perhaps you missed it this year, but the good news is that it is still not too late to participate.
Depression, like all other mental health issues, does not pick a single day out of the year to affect people. Well, OK, there are specific days — perhaps on the anniversary of the death of a loved one or some other significantly upsetting event — when we feel really sad. My mother died on July 11 when I was 13 years old. This is usually a more sad or somber day for me. But it is does not make me seriously depressed. True persistent depression cannot be scheduled and definitely does not honor the calendar.
Depression occurs on a continuum of seriousness. In its more minor forms, it can be experienced as feeling down once in a while, or sometimes feeling tired with little energy, or occasionally having trouble sleeping. These are experiences that the great majority of us have from time to time. However, in its more serious form, depression can be debilitating. It can include persistent feelings that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down, which may be coupled with thoughts that you would be better off dead.
The great news is that depression can be treated. Successful treatment can occur in over 80 percent of all people seeking treatment. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control report that less than one-third of all people suffering from depression actually seeks and utilizes treatment services. Some of the failure to seek help is due to the stigma of seeking treatment or is due to not understanding depression’s symptoms. Once an individual is diagnosed by a professional, who will utilize depression screening tools like the PHQ-9 (patient health questionnaire), there are a number of community resources available to help with depression, including individual, family or group therapy, and may also include anti-depressant medications. (It is important to note that most all experts agree that treatment is most effective if counseling is provided in conjunction with any prescribed medication.)
Ionia County Community Mental Health is one of several local resources available for persons who feel they may be depressed. Free depression screenings are available in person or over the phone. You can also make a face-to-face appointment through our 24-hour switchboard at 1-888-527-17901-888-527-1790, or by walking into any of our offices in Ionia, Belding or Portland during regular business or evening hours.
Robert S. Lathers is a Clinical Social Worker, LMSW, and CEO of Ionia County Community Mental Health.