By Mr. Jerry Harben (Army Medicine)September 30, 2010
The Army marks National Depression Awareness Month in October, with a theme of "Depression is Treatable - Get Screened - Seek Care."
Clinical depression is a serious medical condition that, if left untreated, may lead to other complicated medical conditions. Seeking treatment for a medical condition is not a sign of weakness. It may prevent a good Soldier from becoming a casualty.
The National Institute of Mental Health has reported that major depressive disorder affects some 14.8 million people in the United States.
Signs and symptoms of depression may include sadness, loss of interest in things you once enjoyed, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, restlessness, withdrawing from friends and Family or trouble concentrating or making decisions.
Depression also may produce body aches and pains, irritability, anxiety, over eating or loss of appetite or thoughts of suicide or death.
Unfortunately, many people believe their symptoms are a normal part of life. Two-thirds of people who suffer from depression fail to seek the care needed.
The truth is, more than 80 percent of clinical depression cases can be treated effectively with medication, psychotherapy or both.
Often, the first step to recovery is a depression screening.
Anonymous depression screenings are available through the Department of Defense (http://www.militarymentalhealth.org/Welcome.aspx or 877-877-3647), Department of Veterans Affairs (www.mentalhealth.va.gov/depression.asp) and civilian organizations (for example, mentalhealthscreening.org/programs/military/). The screening sites also provide information about how to get treatment.
For more information, see www.behavioralhealth.army.mil/, www.resilience.army.mil, www.army.mil/csf/ and www.militaryonesource.com.