October is National Depression Awareness Month. In observance, the U.S. Army will join several organizations across America, Oct. 9, in recognition of National Depression Screening Day to inform the public about the signs and symptoms of depression. The public will also learn the importance of seeking treatment and will be provided information about the availability of free online anonymous behavioral health screenings. The Army theme for 2014 is Take the First Step -- Get Screened.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in ten U.S. adults report depression. Symptoms of depression may include persistent sadness, difficulty concentrating, hopelessness, fatigue, changes in appetite, insomnia, irritability, and in some instances, thoughts of suicide. While most people experience sadness at time in their lives, it is time to seek help when these feelings persist and begin to interfere with everyday life which may be a sign of clinical depression, a serious medical condition that if left untreated, may lead to other medical conditions.
Oftentimes, the first step towards getting well is becoming aware of key warning signs through depression screening. Unfortunately, two-thirds of people who suffer from depression fail to seek care. The good news is that clinical depression can be treated and anonymous screening resources are available. Treatments may include therapy, medications or a combination of both.
Enhanced behavioral health screening is mandated across the Army. The Army conducts screening at five recognized touch points, exceeding the National Defense Authorization Act requirements, throughout the deployment cycle, to include an in-theater touch point and periodic annual screening.
The Army is in the midst of a complete transformation to a proactive, integrated, metrics-driven and patient-centered Behavioral Health (BH) System of Care that is standardizing and optimizing clinical BH efforts and best practices for force readiness linked to its Ready and Resilient campaign (R2C).
It takes courage to seek help. The Army's goal is to eliminate the stigma associated with seeking help for depression. Even the most severe cases of depression are treatable. The earlier the treatment begins, the more effective it is and the greater likelihood recurrence can be prevented. Anonymous depression screenings are available through the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, behavioral health and the local community.