Have you ever noticed, or participated in, a health screening in your neighborhood? Screenings, for health conditions like blood pressure or osteoporosis, are common preventative health measures.  What you may not know is that there are also screenings available to diagnose mental health issues like depression. These opportunities to actively seek help may not be as flashy as the diabetes screening at the library, but are very much needed in a country where depression is the leading cause of disability for ages 15 to 44.

This October 5th, during the month of national recognition for depression awareness and emotional intelligence awareness, National Depression Screening Day hopes to shed a bit of light for those who may be living in the dark.

Depression Screenings are not just reserved for October 5th. In fact, depression screenings are offered throughout our country. However, since those who live with depression do not always seek out help or treatment, a designated day or movement could make a huge difference to someone who may otherwise avoid talking about their depression with a medical professional.

What are Depression Screenings?

Not everyone experiences the same exact symptoms of depression.  That is why diagnosing depression isn’t always easy.  One of the tools that a doctor will use to diagnose depression is a depression screening.  Not all depressions screenings are the same, but they typically feature a series of questions that touch on a variety of symptoms that could occur with depression. The individual is usually asked how frequently they experience a particular symptom (e.g., “nearly every day”, “more than half the days”, “several days” or “not at all”).  The screening may also ask if any of the symptoms that were mentioned made it difficult to work, get along with other people, etc.  The questions are not long and they are not scary.

Why is a screening important?

Depression screenings not only give people the chance to talk about their depression or their symptoms, but they also give people the insight that their sadness could be tied to a more serious (and treatable) issue. Having months and days designated for depression screenings and other mental health topics raises awareness for patients, for healthcare professionals, and for others throughout the country. Fortunately, conditions like depression are treatable, but patients need to be diagnosed by a doctor in order to get the help they need.  With more awareness comes less stigma, which will hopefully lead to more people receiving treatment.

If you would like to participate in a Depression Screening this month, check out our Resources page for organizations who can help. This October, take a depression screening and encourage someone you love to do the same.

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