October 8 is National Depression Screening Day. While it may not be the most well-known health awareness holiday, it is an important one. Like any chronic condition, catching symptoms is an important first step. Depression screenings can point out possible concerns and direct you toward help earlier.
Why screen for depression?
Mental health may not seem as important as your physical health, but it can have lasting negative impacts. Screenings are important for various reasons:
- Clinical depression is a serious medical illness.
- Clinical depression can lead to suicide.
- Only one-third of those suffering from severe depression seek treatment from mental health professionals.
- People with depression may mistakenly believe symptoms are a “normal part of life.”
- Depression can complicate other medical conditions.
Who should be screened?
Clinical depression affects men and women of all ages, races, and socioeconomic groups. Those suffering from depression often experience some of the following key symptoms:
- A persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Sleeping too little, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Thoughts of death or suicide
What are the next steps?
Screenings are quick and free online tests that can identify symptoms of possible mental health conditions. They do not serve as professional diagnoses. They may point out the presence of depressive symptoms, but you should see a qualified mental health professional for an official diagnosis and treatment plan.
If your screening says you may display symptoms of depression, judgment-free help is available. The first step is always the hardest, but at Valley Oaks Health, we will be with you through the journey.