October is National Depression Awareness Month. On Oct. 11, organizations and communities across the United States will observe 'National Depression Screening Day' to educate people about the various signs and symptoms of depression and the availability of free anonymous behavioral health screenings. The Army theme for 2012 is "Redefining Strength -- Get Screened, Seek Care." Symptoms of depression include persistent sadness/anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, helplessness, difficulty concentrating, alcohol or substance abuse, and more.

Clinical depression is a serious medical condition that if left untreated, may lead to other medical conditions. A depression screening is often the first step towards getting well. Unfortunately, two-thirds of people who suffer from depression fail to seek care. They mistakenly believe their symptoms are just a normal part of life. The good news for those who suffer with depression is that clinical depression can be treated. Treatments may include psychotherapy, medications or a combination of both.

The Army is committed to decreasing stigma for Soldiers, Family members and Army Civilians who seek behavioral health care. Even the most severe cases of depression are treatable. The earlier the treatment begins, the more effective it is and the greater the likelihood the recurrence of depression can be prevented. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, help is available. Individuals suffering with depression are urged to contact their primary care physician or a behavioral health professional to get the needed care. Anonymous depression screenings are available through the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, behavioral health agencies and resources in local communities.

The Army encourages commanders and leaders to coordinate events locally with military and civilian healthcare professionals to get the word out to Soldiers, Family Members and Army Civilians that depression is treatable, and of the opportunities to be screened and referred for treatment by a primary care or behavioral health professional. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) mandated enhanced behavioral health screening of deploying Service Members. The Army is implementing these requirements through all phases of the deployment cycle as well as exceeding the mandated screening by establishing annual screening for all Soldiers, regardless of deployment status, through existing Periodic Health Assessments.

Army Behavioral Health www.behavioralhealth.army.mil/
Real Warriors Campaign www.realwarriors.net/
Military OneSource www.militaryonesource.com
Comprehensive Soldier Fitness www.army.mil/csf/
Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)