October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, with a focus on spreading awareness and increasing access to resources and support. Working together, we can promote the importance of mental health screenings while reducing the stigma associated with mental health illnesses.
According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI, www.nami.org),
- 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
- 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
- 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
- Less than half of people in the U.S. living with a mental health disorder received professional health care or other services in the past year (mentalhealthfirstaid.org)
The most prevalent conditions among U.S. adults include:
Anxiety Disorders: 19.1% (estimated 48 million people)
Major Depressive Episode: 7.8% (19.4 million people)
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: 3.6% (estimated 9 million people)
Bipolar Disorder: 2.8% (estimated 7 million people)
Common Symptoms of Depression
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, but it is treatable. Following are some of the most common symptoms of depression. If you or someone you love has been experiencing one or more of these nearly every day for at least two weeks, it’s a sign to seek help:
- Persistent sadness or anxiety
- Feeling hopeless
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Becoming more and more isolated
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Thoughts of death or suicide
It’s common for people battling depression to feel worse during the holidays, and seasonal depression may occur as the daylight hours shorten. October is a great time to focus on mental health awareness as it allows for some lead time to prepare for these extra challenges.
What Can You Do?
If you or someone you love is suffering from depression, it’s important to get screened. After your screening, a qualified practitioner will discuss a treatment plan with you that may include talk therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.
If you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1.800.273.8255), or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741. If there is immediate danger, call 911. Reaching out for help may be difficult, but it has the potential to save a life.
Remember that it is normal to have health challenges, both physical and emotional. You are not alone! If you need some support, please reach out for help.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) – offers online support groups and education
Mental Health America – offers links to support groups
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – offers support groups as well as advocacy and other resources