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Wed, Oct. 16

Upcoming event offers free screenings for depression

If you or someone you know might be struggling with depression, write the following date on your calendar: Thursday, Oct. 11. This is when sites throughout the country will be hosting National Depression Screening Day. This free, annual outreach event is designed to help educate the public about the signs of suicide and effective ways to respond to someone at risk; and to provide mental health screenings and educational materials about common mental health problems.

Each year in America, almost 30,000 people die by suicide, and 70 percent of those people tell someone or give warning signs.

There are several types of depression - major depression, dysthymia, bipolar depression, and seasonal affective disorder.

Clinical depression or major depression is a serious and common disorder of mood that is pervasive, intense and attacks the mind and body at the same time. Current theories indicate that clinical depression may be associated with an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that carry communications between nerve cells that control mood and other bodily systems. Other factors may also come into play, such as negative life experiences including stress or loss, medication, other medical illnesses, and certain personality traits and genetic factors.

Symptoms of depression include:

• Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood

• Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism

• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness

• Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities

• Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue

• Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

• Restlessness or irritability

• Inability to sleep or oversleeping

• Changes in appetite or weight

• Unexplained aches and pains

• Thoughts of death or suicide

In the Prescott area, the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic Foundation with underwriting support from the Prescott Evening Lions Club is sponsoring this free event. To find a screening site elsewhere in the state or country, go to www.mentalhealthscreening.org. More details on the local event time and location will be forthcoming in future Counselor's Columns.

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