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Should You Get Screened for Depression?

Mental Health
Author name: Lee Health

Depression Screening Graphic

Depression drains us of our energy, optimism, and motivation to cope with life. It also affects our loved ones, friends, and coworkers. This month, National Depression Screening Day, which took place Oct. 7, recognizes that screenings are often the first step for individuals with depression in getting help.

It’s important to remember that depression screenings are not about one single day. You can do them throughout the year, and the impact can be enormous.

An estimated 16 million U.S. adults (almost 7% of the population) had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. Overall, about 40 million adults struggle with depression or anxiety, according to Eric Raab, D.O., a psychiatrist at Lee Health’s Behavioral Health Center.

“National Depression Screening Day is important because it calls attention to the illness of depression,” Dr. Raab says. “First, it can help people make an informed diagnosis. It also drags depression out of the darkness. And perhaps most important, it can bring help to those that need it.”

Dr. Raab says depression and anxiety disorders are still largely viewed as something to hide.

“National Depression Screening Day helps us all learn about depression together, which helps fight the negative stigmas around depression,” he says.

From August 2020 to February 2021, the percentage of adults with symptoms of anxiety or depression increased 5 percent to 41.5 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Raab says an initiative such as National Depression Screening Day provides options to people who are initially reluctant to seek help for possible depression.

“Like other health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, many people with depression aren’t aware of their illness or may deny it,” Dr. Raab notes. “Depression screenings are a quick and easy way to identify early signs of possible trouble. Like screenings for other illnesses, depression screenings should be a routine part of healthcare.”

Depression: signs and symptoms

If you’ve been experiencing many of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression.

  1. You feel sad all the time, anxious or “empty”
  2. You feel hopeless and helpless
  3. You're more irritable than usual
  4. You're losing weight without trying or without a diet
  5. You have trouble sleeping, or regularly wake up early in the morning, or oversleep
  6. You’ve lost interest or pleasure in your hobbies and activities
  7. You have difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  8. You have difficulty sleeping, have early-morning awakening, or regularly oversleep
  9. You’re always tired, or your energy levels have decreased significantly
  10. You have thoughts of death or suicide

Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom, Dr. Raab notes.  Some people experience only a few symptoms, while others may experience more.

Why screen for depression?

Sometimes people with depression mistakenly believe that the symptoms of depression are a "normal part of life,” according to Dr. Raab.

“Depression is more than just feeling down or having a bad day,” Dr. Raab explains. “When your sad mood lasts for a long time and interferes with your normal, everyday functioning, you may be depressed. Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated.”

The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is, according to Dr. Raab.

“Many helpful treatments for depression are available,” Dr. Raab says. “Treatment for depression can help reduce symptoms and shorten how long the depression lasts. Treatment can include therapy and/or taking medications.”

Dr. Raab adds that “No two people are affected the same way by depression, and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for treatment. It may take a few appointments to determine the treatment that works best for you.”

Who should get screened?

If you think you might be depressed‚ talk with your doctor or a mental health professional immediately. This is especially important if your symptoms are getting worse or affecting your daily activities. Your primary care provider is an excellent place to start.

Screenings are not a professional diagnosis, Dr. Raab notes. But they’re helpful because they can help identify depressive symptoms and guide you towards professional evaluation, if needed.

Again, you should see your doctor or a qualified mental health professional if you experience five or more symptoms of depression for longer than two weeks or if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily routine.

Lee Health Behavioral Health

Lee Health Behavioral Health Services strives to address the diverse mental health needs of our community by providing psychiatric services and mental health resources. These include outpatient services for people 18 and older suffering from a variety of psychiatric disorders.

Services include new client evaluation, medication management, and psychotherapeutic evaluation and management.

Want more information? Call 239-343-9180.