By David Palmiter, PhD (Psychology Professor, Marywood University)
Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us and sometimes they win.
October 6th is National Depression Screening Day. This day affords the opportunity to receive a free, anonymous and confidential screen for a mood disorder. Some statistics to keep in mind:
- About 15.7 million American adults suffered from depression in 2014.
- Suicide is the 3rdleading cause of death among young people ages 10-24.
- Depression has a higher mortality rate than cardiac disease.
- Depression causes more days off from work than any other medical disease.
- The large majority of people suffering from depression do not get effective care, even though evidence-based treatments yield impressive results.
What would we conclude about our culture if the same statistics were true regarding our dental health? It’s sort of hard to imagine this alternative universe, isn’t it: dental health problems are common, destructive and usually treatable but only a small percentage of people receive said healing treatment. Images of us walking around with our knuckles dragging on the ground would come to mind. Yet, this is the reality regarding our collective mental health. Let’s vow to combat this state of affairs. Let’s agree that such a reality is stupid and beneath us. October 6th affords an opportunity to walk the talk that our mental health matters and that we deserve to live lives filled with joy and meaning.
Those attending a screening event can typically count on being greeted by a gracious person and asked to complete a form. No identifying information is requested and no fee is charged. Participants fill out the form, wait a little (so the form can be reviewed), and then meet with a mental health professional in a confidential space. The primary goal is to figure out whether further evaluation might be worthwhile but there is usually time to discuss other matters as well. Screening sites also typically provide referral information and education materials.
Referring back to the Stephen King quote, depression is a lying, liar that lives within its victim’s mind. It sings dirges such as,
“Everything is terrible. It’s all your fault and none of it can be changed.”
“You’ll never feel better again.”
“You suck and have no purpose.”
Depression’s end game is the death of its victim. But, on 10/6/16, an army of lean-mean-healing-machines will be available to help all those who may be so afflicted to begin the process of understanding and healing.
Please do yourself a favor if you are struggling with your mood, and take the brave and wise step to get screened. And, if you have a friend or a loved one who might benefit, ask that person to keep you company as you get screened. Such an act of kindness portends to open a door to transformative change. To find a screening site in your location, click here. For additional resources on fighting depression, visit the APA Help Center.
Dr. David Palmiter is a psychology professor at Marywood University and a private practitioner. He is a fellow of APA, The American Academy of Clinical Psychology and the Pennsylvania Psychological Association (PPA). He is also a past president of PPA, a frequent consultant to the media and a blogger. An author of multiple scholarly papers, his two books are Working parents, thriving families: 10 Strategies that make a difference and Practicing cognitive behavioral therapy with children and adolescents: A Guide for students and early career professionals. His website is at http://www.helpingparents.com/; his blog can be found at http://www.hecticparents.com/ and his Twitter moniker is @HelpingParents.
Image source: Graţiela Dumitrică via Flickr Creative Commons