Today is World Mental Health Day & National Depression Screening Day
It is no coincidence that World Mental Health Day and National Depression Screening Day both land on October 10th this year, smack in the middle of Mental Illness Awareness Week. Depression screening is an important tool that can be used to increase awareness and destigmatize mental health and mental illness. If you have been exhibiting signs of sadness, desperation, unexplained aches and pains, loss of interest or fatigue, you may be suffering with a common mental health issue such as depression. Depression is treatable. Find out more by taking the depression screening test at the bottom of the page.
1 in 5 adults experience mental illness each year, but 5 in 5 adults experience mental health.
Mental health and mental illness have increasingly become interchangeable terms to the public, however, they do not mean the same thing. Mental illnesses require treatment and must meet specific requirements found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, often need to be managed through medication and therapy, and are diagnosed by a doctor or physiatrist. Having poor mental health could mean that you are experiencing sadness, anxious thoughts or increased stress, and feel unable to deal with these thoughts or feelings in a healthy or productive way.
Mental illness, or mental disorders, can be caused by numerous factors, such as poor mental health, difficult or stressful circumstances, lack of coping skills, genetics, the environment we grew up in or a mixture of all these things. Mental illness is a behavioral or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning, it affects how a person thinks, feels, perceives themselves and others, and our moods. Mental health is just as important as physical health, but often overlooked. Mental health is our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. Many people who struggle with mental health turn to alcohol and drugs to avoid negative thoughts and feelings. This cycle is dangerous and isolating, and often feels impossible to end.
Depression is one of the most common, treatable, mental health issues, however remains a silent illness. Depression has little to no physical signs on the exterior, which can leave people confused as to why they feel the way they do on the inside. Many people with depression aren’t aware their symptoms can be explained and feel at a loss when attempting to figure out or explain to a doctor what’s going on. Depression can be situational, seasonal and chronic. Clinical depression ranges from mild to severe, also known as major depressive disorder. Major depressive disorder is not the same as the depression one may feel when they experience the loss of a loved one. The American Psychiatric Association has specific criteria when diagnosing depression, some of the signs and symptoms include feelings of sadness, hopelessness or emptiness, anger and irritability, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, increase or decrease in appetite, trouble thinking and concentrating, unexplained physical problems such as back pain or headaches, and thoughts of suicide and death.
Clinical depression affects people of all ages, ethnicities, socioeconomic status, religion, and sexes. Depression does not discriminate. Many people feel guilt and shame for struggling with depression due to feelings of “it could be worse” or stigma surrounding mental health. These feelings often leave people in the dark, not asking for help. Ignoring depression or depressive thoughts will not make them subside, in fact the best way to make depression dissipate is through counseling and medication or a combination of both. Depression screening has the power to save lives. Undiagnosed mental health conditions are one of the biggest contributors to suicide, which continues to take more and more lives each year. By using depression screening tools or annually being screened for depressive symptoms by a doctor, you are not only making your mental health a priority, but the sooner a diagnosis of depression is made, the sooner a person will be able to take action, create a treatment plan, and begin the healing and recovery process.