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Be Proactive: National Depression Screening Day is October 11

Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Fri, Oct 5th 2012

A few months ago, I shared with you my conflicted view of awareness months. This view hasn't really changed, considering that along with worthy designations such as Black History Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Domestic Violence Awareness Month, October is also the recipient of such inane designations as National Kitchen and Bath Month, National Applejack Month, and - no, I'm not being sarcastic - National Sarcastic Awareness Month.

sad womanAnd you know what's really sad? More people will probably drink applejack this month than go to the doctor for their much-needed mammograms (Yes, applejack is something you drink, not eat. I found this juicy bit of information in a blog post about National Applejack Month.).

But I will choose to persevere and try to bring attention to those awareness months (and weeks, and days) that I feel are truly worthwhile for the sake of our well-being.

That's why I want to encourage you to be proactive on October 11, which is National Depression Screening Day. Agencies and organizations around the country will rally on that day to provide educational information about the signs and symptoms of depression and offer confidential, anonymous depression screenings with qualified mental health professionals. Those whose screenings show they might need more assistance will be referred to appropriate services in their community.

Here are a couple of reasons I support National Depression Screening Day:

  • Clinical depression should not be taken lightly; it is a serious medical condition that can result in significant impairment in daily functioning if left untreated. It can also lead to self-harm and/or suicide.
  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depression is the top cause of disability in the United States for people ages 15-44.
  • Approximately 6.7% of the U.S. population over the age of 18 has major depression in a given year.
  • About two-thirds of people who meet the criteria for clinical depression do not seek help.

Think about that. Two out of three. Imagine being weighted down with feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, helplessness, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, and physical ailments such as fatigue. Now imagine living with that day after day - possibly year after year - without reaching out for help that could bring some real relief. Perhaps some of you already know what this is like.

I'm not blaming anyone for not seeking help, because the stigma surrounding depression is stifling and intimidating. And when we already feel like withdrawing into ourselves, why would we want to look outside of ourselves for assistance and understanding?

But I'm encouraging you to give it a try. If you won't do it for me, do it for the Army.

What? That's right - this post was inspired by an e-newsletter I received from the U.S. Army. Today's issue focused on National Depression Screening Day and the Army's initiative called Redefining Strength - Get Screened, Seek Care.

If the Army can do it, so can we. Don't suffer silently. Be proactive and attend a screening on October 11. Find one near you by clicking here.


Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.

Itís a true blessing to have you visit my blog on mental health and wellness. I also write blogs on faith and caregiving in addition to teaching part-time for Columbia College of Missouri. For more information about my background and writing, visit my webpage at

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