October is Depression Awareness Month

Friday, October 29, 2010

October is Depression Awareness Month

By Molly Polyock, MS, NCC

Counseling Care Center

Most people have seen pink ribbons during the month of October for breast cancer awareness, but not as many people know that October is also the month for mental health and depression awareness. Depression can be debilitating and affects between 6 and 7 % of the American population. Below are some frequently asked questions about depression:

I have been feeling kind of down, could I have depression?

Everyone feels depressed from time to time and sadness is a normal human emotion. When a depressed mood or loss of interest affects you nearly every day and makes it difficult for you to function for more than two weeks, you may have clinical depression.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Symptoms of depression include feeling sad or empty, loss of interest and pleasure in most activities, changes in appetite or weight, problems sleeping, feeling restless or feeling slowed down, loss of energy/fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, difficulty with concentration, and thoughts of death or suicide.

What is the treatment for depression?

Depression is treatable and there are a number of treatment approaches that have proven to be effective. For moderate to severe depression, medication treatment along with psychotherapy is recommended. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which focuses on changing thoughts, feelings, and behavior, can also be a very effective treatment.

I am embarrassed to tell anyone that I am having a mental health problem, what can I do?

First off, it is important to recognize that millions of Americans are affected by depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. There is no reason for you to suffer through your problems alone. Every day, mental health issues are becoming more widely acknowledged, accepted, and understood. New legislation has been passed to make insurance coverage for mental health equitable to insurance coverage for medical issues. Talk to your primary care doctor if you are concerned about depression or other mental health issues. Your primary care doctor can make a referral to a psychiatrist, counselor, or other specialist if needed. You can also contact a qualified mental health professional on your own. Beloit Health System has a Counseling Care Center staffed with certified professionals who can help, also.

I am worried that my family member may be depressed or even suicidal, what can I do?

People are often afraid to approach family members about depression or mental health issues. If you believe someone you care about is suffering from depression or another mental health problem, it can be very helpful to tell the person you have noticed that he or she is struggling and that you are concerned. If you believe that someone you care about is suicidal, you should get professional help immediately by calling Rock County Crisis (608-757-5025) or the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-784-2433).






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