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The federal government has designated October as National Depression Education and Awareness Month and Bradford-Tioga Head Start is working to bring awareness of this topic to the families in the community. Depression is a medical condition that has an impact on a person’s daily life. It interferes with someone’s ability to eat, sleep, work and even concentrate. Depression robs sufferers of their ability to hobbies and activities that they previously enjoyed.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability with over 350 million people suffering from depression worldwide. Symptoms of depression may include persistent sadness, difficulty concentrating, hopelessness, helplessness, fatigue, changes in appetite, insomnia, irritability, persistent aches and pains, and in some instances, thoughts of suicide. It is time to seek help when these feelings persist and begin to interfere with everyday life, which may be an indication of clinical depression, a serious medical condition that if left untreated, may continue for years and lead to other medical conditions.

Depression can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, from children to senior citizens. There are several different types of depression, major depressive disorder (or clinical depression), bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression, where individuals experience extreme highs and lows), persistent depressive disorder that lasts at least two years, psychotic depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD), and postpartum depression where symptoms of depression begin at birth or any time in the first year after giving birth.

Treatment Options for Depression

The good news is that depression is treatable. There are several types of antidepressant medications available, and it does take several weeks to determine whether a particular medication is working. Patients who have been prescribed a medication are advised to be patient and to give the medicine some time before concluding that it is not helping before asking to switch to something else.

Talk therapy is also used to treat depression and it can be started immediately upon receiving a diagnosis (as long as a therapist can be found). There are no side effects and individual results will vary.

Many people report getting good results with a combination of medication and seeing a therapist for their depression. If you or anyone you know has suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 800-273-TALK or go to your nearest emergency room.

Depression and Stigma

One of the biggest problems that those with conditions like Depression and Bipolar Disorder will face is the fact that many people either:

•           Don’t believe their condition is real.

•           Have misconceptions about their condition

•           Treat them differently

•           Attach inaccurate stigmas to them

But make no mistake, depression and Bipolar Disorder are both very real medical conditions whose symptoms can be debilitating to those who suffer from these diseases.

Becoming Stigma Free

Here are several ways that you can help become stigma free. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) recommends that to be stigma free, people can:

 •          Learn more about mental health

•           Educate yourself and others about psychological disorders

•           See the person behind the illness

•           Strive to listen and understand

•           Tell your own story if you’ve been affected by mental illness