October 5, 2007
National Depression Screening Day
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Nearly 30,000 people in the United States die by suicide each year, with about 158 suicides in Maine each year. Of those who die by suicide, 70 percent display warning signs or tell someone before taking their own life. Screening for depression is an important early step toward treatment and could have a profound effect in reducing suicide.
According to the Maine Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, one in 13 adult Mainers (7.6 percent) have exhibited moderate to severe symptoms of depression. Many have not been diagnosed and are liked not receiving treatment, said Dr. Elsie Freeman, a psychiatrist with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
Depression is highly responsive to treatment and like most medical conditions, it is better treated in the early stages of the illness. Unfortunately, most people do not know the warning signs. Here is a simple test for depression: If, in the past two weeks, you have often been bothered by having little interest or pleasure in doing things or feeling down or hopeless, you may have depression and should seek further evaluation. Other depression symptoms include trouble concentrating, low energy, sleep problems, over-eating or poor appetite and thoughts of death or suicide.
If you have been experiencing several of these depression symptoms for more than two weeks, it’s important that you contact your doctor. Your primary care physician can help evaluate whether you have depression and begin treatment. If you have been thinking about death or suicide, call your doctor today.
For help 24 hours a day, call the state wide crisis line at 1-888-568-1112. Many additional resources exist to help people learn more about suicide and depression, including information from the National Institute for Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/depression.cfm and the American Psychiatric Association: http://www.healthyminds.org.
The Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program’s website features information on youth suicide symptoms and depression (http://www.maine.gov/suicide ). In addition, a confidential online screening can be completed at http://www.depression-screening.org/screeningtest/screeningtest.htm .