October is National Depression Education and Awareness Month, and National Depression Screening Day is just a few days away.
CrossWinds Counseling & Wellness is inviting the community to learn more about the signs and symptoms of depression during Coffee with CrossWinds at 8 a.m. Thursday at 1000 Lincoln St.
CEO Amanda Cunningham said sometimes people may not realize they are experiencing depression, or they may not think they are “bad enough” for help.
“I do think that a lot of times we don’t realize that those symptoms or those signs could be something that deserve a little more attention,” she said. “We all have stressors, we all have things that kind of pop up or things that we could probably talk about, but sometimes they add up. We don’t always realize how much impact they have on our lives.”
CrossWinds CEO Amanda Cunningham said depression can bring on a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms.
“One of the things I think is interesting is that the first place many people go to when they’re experiencing depression is their primary care physician,” Cunningham said. “What that tells you is that those things can look like physical problems — headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, hunger, weight loss, weight gain. These physical things we can notice and realize, ‘Hey, I need to go to the doctor.’”
Some of the harder symptoms for people to identify are mood-related, she said.
“There’s the mood impact, like not wanting to engage in things that you found pleasurable before, withdrawing from people, being tearful or irritable,” Cunningham said. “Any kind of change in that behavior, really, whether it’s a change in my mood, whether it’s a change in my interactions with other people, whether it’s a change in my physical health — those are all signs that we should really look at.”
Cunningham said the biggest thing to look at when considering a depression diagnosis is how the symptoms are affecting a person’s daily life.
“If you can’t get out of bed to get to work, or you get to work and you just can’t finish tasks, you’re concentration’s off — that’s going to start to be impactful,” she said. “There’s a whole spectrum of first catching on when something’s not right and then the interference of daily life. You definitely don’t want to wait to get to that point to seek help.”
Worsening depression can also lead to thoughts of suicide.
Cunningham said Thursday’s event, which falls on National Depression Screening Day, is a good way for people to learn more about CrossWinds’ services. The goal, she said, is to make mental health services more accessible.
“I think the key thing is, people can recover from depression,” she said. “Our issue is, we know that early intervention is better, but people take up to 10 years to seek help. Not even half of those individuals with mental health problems seek treatment, and so, if we can break those barriers, make it more accessible, make it easier, get people in here earlier, it could lessen the longer term mental health problems that could come up. Depression is the beginning of suicidal thoughts, so if we truly want to tackle and reduce suicide, we’ve got to have some things in place.”
To take a confidential depression screening online, visit www.crosswindsks.org and look for the Screening Tools section.