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March 31, 2017 | Happenings

Depression is more common than you think

Mental illnesses are as common as dark brown eyes.

There are 19 million Americans living with depression, and it affects everyone differently. Not all treatment works the same but with an accurate diagnosis, effective medication, attention to health and wellness, peer and family support, there is hope for recovery.

If you consistently feel down for more than two weeks, seek professional help. Below are a few ways people commonly treat depression.  Your physician can help decide which treatment is best for you.


Antidepressant medication may be prescribed by your doctor for depression. Medication helps up to 70 percent of people, especially those experiencing severe depression, or those who have experienced mild or moderate depression for a long time.

If it is the first time you are being treated with medication and you are noticing side effects, don’t just stop the medication.  Call your provider as there may be a number of things that can be done to help. After you start feeling better you should stay on your medication for at least six to twelve months. If you’ve been treated with medication before, you may need to stay on it longer.

Never stop taking medication without contacting your doctor first, even if you’re feeling better. There can be bad side effects from suddenly going off some medications. You should follow up with your provider within one month after medication starts or changes and should be seen at least every 6 months after.


For many people, talking with a mental health professional is helpful. In fact, therapy is about as effective as medication for people with mild to moderate depression. Several studies show participating in therapy for a brief period of time helps long after the sessions are over because people learn new ways to think and cope.


Exercise, such as walking or running, has been proven to improve not only physical health but also the psychological health of patients. It positively changes some of the good chemicals in your brain, the same chemicals targeted by antidepressant medication.  Exercise improves energy, relieves anxiety and helps you feel empowered.  Talk to your doctor about how to start your treatment, and incorporate exercise into your plan.

Support family and friends

One way to support those you know who experience depression, or other mental illnesses, is simply by talking to them and acknowledging their illness.  Most people live with symptoms of a mental illness for ten years before seeking treatment, largely due to the stigma.  Talking about mental illness is one way to help show your support and help break down the stigma.

Many don’t know how to respond when friends and family bring up their struggles with depression, or other illnesses. The good news is that there are resources that can help you, like Make It OK.  The website offers toolkits and tips to help guide you on how to talk about mental health. Find out more at

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 1-800-273-8255