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Detect depression sooner rather than later

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Thursday October 11 is National Depression Screening Day.

Major depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the U.S., but often times, people are hesitant to seek help.

According to Joseph Rock, PsyD of Cleveland Clinic, for people who are having persistent feelings of being down, the best thing to do is to start talking about it.

“You want to go to somebody with professional expertise – and you don’t have to get committed to therapy or you don’t have to start taking anti-depressant medication, but maybe you just want to find out  – is this something that I need to worry about or don’t need to worry about?” he said.

When it comes to depression screening, Dr. Rock said there are a series of questions the doctor will ask. 

“There’s some obvious questions like, ‘have you been feeling down, depressed or upset lately?’ Have you thought about harming yourself? - Those things are very clearly related to depression,” he said. “But they will also ask questions about other things too, such as – ‘how has your sleep been? Are you getting too much or are you having trouble sleeping?”

Dr. Rock said these are feelings that should be discussed with a primary care doctor to see if further evaluation is needed.

He said sometimes depression is a result of genetics and it’s not brought on by any particular life-event.

Other times, a catastrophic life event can bring it on – the loss of a spouse, a child or even a job.

Dr. Rock said getting help for depression is becoming less-stigmatized because it’s being talked about more openly in the media – making it easier for more people seek help, especially men.

“We’ve seen basketball players, baseball players, football players; celebrity athletes that have come out and talked about their depression and that’s particularly helpful for men, because these are people who are supposed to be ‘macho’ and it really breaks down the stigma a lot,” he said. 

Dr. Rock said it’s better to get help for depression sooner rather than waiting to see if it will go away on its own, because it can take a physical toll on the body as well.

Depression has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and substance abuse.

And sometimes depression can creep up slowly – to the point where people won’t even realize that it’s a problem, which is why Dr. Rock says screening is so important.

“A lot of time, depression is kind of slow-moving and insidious,” said Dr. Rock. “Something happened in your life that’s not huge, but it’s disappointing, and you feel sad and you don’t feel like doing as much, and you’re not eating as well; and it’s happened slowly and it feels normal- you think –‘well this is the way I am now’, and you don’t think of yourself as being depressed and so you don’t think to go in and talk to your doctor.”

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