Thursday is National Depression Screening Day

Event is held during Mental Illness Awareness Week

DETROIT - National Depression Screening Day is held annually on the Thursday of the first full week in October.

NDSD is dedicated to raising awareness and screening people for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders. It is the nation’s oldest voluntary, community-based screening program.

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the U.S., but people are often hesitant to seek treatment.

You can take a free anonymous depression screening online at helpyourselfhelpothers.org/.

Dr. Joseph Rock, a psychologist for the Cleveland Clinic, said the best thing to do is to talk about it.

"You probably want to go to somebody that’s got some professional expertise – and you don’t have to get committed to therapy or you don’t have to start taking anti-depressant medication," Rock said. "But maybe you just want to find out if -- is this something that I need to worry about or don’t need to worry about?"

Rock said the symptoms of depression aren't always obvious. Your doctor might ask how your sleep has been, if you're sleeping too much or have problems sleeping, if you're eating more or less than usual or not going out and enjoying things the way you used to. 

Rock said these are feelings that should be discussed with your doctor to see if further evaluation is needed. 

Sometimes depression is genetic, a biochemical reaction in the body that isn't brought on by any particular event. But sometimes a catastrophic life event -- the loss of a family member or job -- can bring it on.

Rock said depression is becoming less stigmatized because it's being spoken of more openly in the media, making it easier for people to seek help.

“Basketball players, and there have been baseball players, football players; celebrity athletes that have come out and that’s particularly helpful, I think, for men," Rock said. "Because these are people who are supposed to be ‘macho’ and it really breaks down the stigma a lot.”

He said it's better to seek treatment sooner, rather than waiting to see if it will go away on its own, because depression can take a physical toll on the body, being linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and substance abuse.

For more information, visit National Depression Screening Day's official website here.

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