Every year you probably visit a dentist to make sure you don’t have any cavities or a primary care doctor to get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked. But you may not think about getting screened fordepression. You might see the lack of desire to meet up with friends or increased feelings of tiredness as just passing feelings. But for nearly 7% of adult and more than 9% of children those feelings are more than just passing sensations. They can be signs of depression.
As part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, National Depression Screening Day will be held on Thursday, Oct. 9. Around the world there will be depression screening questionnaires offered free of charge to help anyone identify signals of depression. Visit Help Yourself Help Others to take a screening online or find a place near you that is holding a screening.
It’s not always easy to stand up and admit you need help—it’s more difficult than getting a cavity filled. But once you do get help, you can begin to get better. Here are some suggestions from real people about how to live well with depression.
- Become an expert. Learn all you can about treatment options, attend local conferences and network with other people at meetings and support groups. Build a personal library of useful websites and helpful books.
- Recognize early symptoms. Identify triggers, such as times of year or events that may aggravate your depression symptoms, so you can identify an emerging episode and get the help you need as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask the people around you for help—they can help monitor your behavior.
- Engage in your treatment. A positive relationship with your health care providers can help improve the effectiveness of treatment. You both must develop a trust and a strong line of communication. Speak honestly about your symptoms and experiences with treatments.
- Develop a plan. Most communities have a crisis hotline or emergency walk-in centers, so know where they are and keep them handy. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be called 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
- Find emotional support from others living with depression. Share your thoughts, fears and questions with other people who have the same illness. Connect with others through peer-support groups like NAMI Peer-to-Peer. You can also sign up for afree NAMI.org account and connect with others on our online message boards.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. These substances can disturb emotional balance and interact with medications. You may think using drugs or alcohol will help you “perk up,” but using them can block your recovery.
- Get healthy. Eat well and exercise. To relieve stress, try low-key activities like meditation, yoga or Tai Chi.