Depression is more than just a bad mood. It’s the most common mental disorder that impacts more than 15 million Americans including 5% of the nation’s children and teens. October 11 is National Depression Screening Day and Dr. David Palmiter, President of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association (PPA), said this event is very important.
“A lot of people don’t know when they’re depressed,” Palmiter said. “They just think it’s them or they think it’s simply an inevitable consequence of a stress or they think there’s nothing to be done about it.”
There is no single answer to what causes depression. Anyone interested can go to a screening center anonymously, be assigned a number, asked to fill out a screening form and turn it in. After the form is scored and interpreted, the individual has the opportunity to go into a private room with a mental health professional to review the results. Palmiter noted the screening doesn’t provide a formal diagnosis, but offers suggestions for the next steps to take.
“Some people are in-and-out in 10-15 minutes, others will savor the experience and want to talk about stresses in their life,” Palmiter said. “That range is determined by the person’s interests not the institution’s agenda.”
According to the American Psychological Association people with depression might experience:
- Lack of interest and pleasure in daily activities
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Lack of energy
- Inability to concentrate
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Children and teens with depression:
- Might be more irritable or cranky
- Show changes in school work or a drop in grades
- Seem less interested in being with friends or doing their usual activities
- Like adults, might even think about death
Palmiter said if in doubt, go to a screening, but some locations specify an acceptable age range. but all the details about screening centers and guidelines can be found on the Screening for Mental Health website.