Why Seeking Help & Getting Treatment Are Essential
Depression affects approximately 17.3 million Americans, which is about 7.1% of the U.S. population each year. (National Institute of Mental Health “Major Depression”, 2017). That number is not including the 1.9 million children that are also affected by depression.
Unfortunately, it’s common for those with depression to find it challenging to get through the day. If left untreated, depression can lead to and exacerbate multiple other health conditions—Seeking help from a medical professional, getting treatment and/or counseling is imperative. Along with making other health conditions worse, such as heart disease, depression also raises the risk of suicide in affected patients. Therefore, reaching out to seek medical intervention is absolutely critical.
We spoke to Dr. Crawford with Millennium Physician Group to find out more about depression screening and the importance of treatment.
Dr. Crawford explained, “The 8th of October is National Depression Screening Day, a part of National Mental Health Awareness Week. Clinical depression is very common. CDC data indicates that at any given time about 8% of the population is suffering from depression. It is recommended that all persons aged 12 years and older be screened annually for depression.
“Depression is more than just feeling sad for a few days. It is an alteration of brain chemistry with multiple complex causes, including genetic and environmental factors. Prolonged exposure to stressful situations can lead to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.
“Depression is a medical problem like any other. In almost all cases, someone suffering from clinical depression cannot just “get over it”. They require various therapies, including counseling, medication, and exercise, among others, to restore a balance in mood and neurotransmitter levels. We would never suggest to someone with high blood pressure that they should just “get over it”. We should understand that clinical depression has physiologic as well as psychological causes, many of which may be insurmountable without medical treatment.”
We screen for Depression because:
. Clinical depression is a serious medical illness. It can negatively affect a person’s job, physical health and personal relationships.
. Clinical depression can lead to suicide.
. Sometimes people with depression mistakenly believe that the symptoms of depression are a “normal part of life.”
. Clinical depression affects men and women of all ages, races and socioeconomic groups.
. Only about a third (35.3%) of those suffering from severe depression seek reatment from a mental health professional.1
. Depression can co-occur with and complicate other medical conditions.
Common symptoms of depression are:
. A persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
. Sleeping too little, or sleeping too much
. Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
. Restlessness or irritability
. Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
. Fatigue or loss of energy
. Thoughts of death or suicide
According to Mental Health America, the following are frequent causes of depression:
Many things can contribute to clinical depression. For some people, a number of factors seem to be involved, while for others a single factor can cause the illness. Oftentimes, people become depressed for no apparent reason.1
Biological – People with depression may have too little or too much of certain brain chemicals, called “neurotransmitters.” Changes in these brain chemicals may cause or contribute to depression.1
Cognitive – People with negative thinking patterns and low self-esteem are more likely to develop clinical depression.1
Gender – More women experience depression than men. While the reasons for this are still unclear, they may include the hormonal changes women go through during menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. Other reasons may include the stress caused by the multiple responsibilities that women have.1
Co-occurrence – Depression is more likely to occur along with certain illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and hormonal disorders.1
Medications – Side effects of some medications can bring about depression.1
Genetic – A family history of depression increases the risk for developing the illness. Some studies also suggest that a combination of genes and environmental factors work together to increase risk for depression.1
Situational – Difficult life events, including divorce, financial problems or the death of a loved one can contribute to depression.1
“Depression is often accompanied by anxiety or excessive worry or panic attacks. If you or someone you know has been experiencing some of these symptoms for more than two weeks, they should seek help from their primary care physician or a mental health professional.
“If someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts or feelings, they should call 911, or the national Suicide Prevention hotline, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In a confidential manner, you can receive help and referrals to local mental health services in your area. If available, also find someone you trust, and share your struggles and feelings with them. You don’t have to go through this alone.
“A simple home or office screening tool for depression is the PHQ-2. it consists of two simple questions:
1. Over the past two weeks have you felt down, depressed or hopeless?
2. Over the past two weeks have you felt little interest or pleasure in doing
“A ‘yes’ answer to either question should be followed up with a more formal screening with a doctor or mental health professional.
“Sometimes people are reluctant to admit that they struggle with these feelings. They think it is a sign of mental weakness. I think it takes great courage to ask for help, especially when you are feeling hopeless about everything. Please don’t avoid treatment because you fear what others might say. The only way to get better is to seek help.”
Robert Crawford, M.D., Family Medicine
Dr. Robert Crawford grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He trained in Family Medicine at St. Vincent’s in Jacksonville.
Dr. Crawford is board certified in Family Medicine and is fluent in English and Spanish. Dr. Crawford and his wife have seven children and one granddaughter. They enjoy traveling, good food, laughter and spending time with family and friends.
Millennium Physician Group
12995 S Cleveland Ave, Suite 184, Fort Myers, FL 33907