When you have the flu, you feel horrible. When you break your leg, you don’t try to hide it from everyone. You don’t try to deal with it all on your own. When the flu knocks the socks right off of you, you run to the doctor, talk openly about your symptoms and have no problem taking any medication the doctor prescribes.
The flu doesn’t discriminate. It’s universal. A broken leg can happen to anyone at any time. And no one judges you if you get sick or injured. It’s perfectly acceptable. It’s time we start treating depression like it’s the flu or a broken arm.
Like the flu or a fractured limb, depression is a treatable medical condition that affects people of all genders, races, ages, and income levels. People who are depressed feel more than sadness or “the blues.” They feel hopeless and suffer deep emotional pain for prolonged periods. Depression can cause dysfunction in every aspect of one’s life.
Nearly one in five Americans will experience depression sometime in their lifetime, and more than 19 million Americans suffer from a depressive disorder each year.
It is important to get an evaluation from a mental health clinician (e.g., psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker) so that you receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
However, due to the shortage of mental health clinicians, it can be difficult to find one. For example there are only 7,000 child psychiatrists in the country. Only 55% of all psychiatrists accept insurance. Therefore, to see some psychiatrists, you would need to pay out of pocket.
Depression causes people to lose pleasure from daily life, can complicate other medical conditions, and can even be serious enough to lead to suicide.
Depression is very treatable, with the overwhelming majority of those who seek treatment showing improvement. The most commonly used treatments are antidepressant medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. The choice of treatment depends on the pattern, severity, persistence of depressive symptoms and the history of the illness. As with many illnesses, early treatment is more effective and helps prevent the likelihood of serious recurrences.
Too many people resist treatment because they believe depression isn’t serious, that they can treat it themselves or that it is a personal weakness rather than a serious medical illness. It must be treated by a physician or qualified mental health professional.