Identifying Depression

Identifying Depression

The death of actor and comedian Robin Williams came as a tragedy to many. However, it's forced many people to take a closer look at the mental illness, depression.

Nearly 1 in 3 people suffer from the serious illness, according to Hannah Fryer, the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) in Wichita Falls. That’s about 15 million people nationwide, roughly 7 percent of the entire United States population, according to Fryer.

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and the numbers are holding steady, according to Fryer. Many people don't understand just how common the illness is.

"No one wants to be looked at differently, but the fact of the matter is that there are issues out there where people need extra assistance," said Mileasha Rizan, a Behavioral Health Program Supervisor at the Helen Farabee Centers in Wichita Falls.

Many problems people have with seeking treatment are the stigma that’s associated with the illness. Suicide was in the top ten causes of death in ages 1-85 plus, in the United States. Suicide claims the lives of 34,592 people each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health

Many times people  wait too long to seek help, according to health officials.

"So what starts out as 'well I'm just not feeling good,' to 'I'm just not wanting to be around people,' that instead of just knowing themselves, they will continue on (not seeking treatment)," said Rizan.

Depression is 3 times higher in individuals aged 18 to 29, according to Rizan. It's 1.5 to 3 times higher in females, but depression doesn't discriminate.

"It can happen to anyone and it doesn't have to last forever, it really doesn't. But for some people it does. It can be a battle they fight their whole life," said Fryer.

Although seeking treatment for the illness can be scary, health officials said you can't act lightly when it comes to depression.

"I understand the desire to not be strapped to medication.  It's one of those things; you wouldn't walk off a broken leg. You can't just get up and pretend it didn't happen," said Fryer.

Many times figuring out if someone has depression can be a difficult talk. Many people can't see the mental battles people have every day.

"A lot of times we just see a small amount; it's kind of like an iceberg. You see the very tip, but what's underneath is a lot of perceptions," said Rizan.

Fully diagnosing the illness takes individual cooperation. Although someone might be able to spot the problem, they need the person suffering's perspective to evaluate the severity of the case.

"What is not typically seen or what you don't see, is what that individual is telling them inside. We are our own worst critic," said Rizan.

There are some common indicators families, and friends might be able to notice in an individual that is suspected to be suffering. An individual may isolate themselves from other people; they may even change their appetite by eating less, or not eating at all.

The individual may feel very overwhelmed during everyday tasks, and they many not act themselves. It's very important to ask questions if your loved one may be at risk.

There are many ways to get help and the first step is to seek health experts for a diagnosis. Factors like environment, life events, and genetics contribute to depression diagnosis.

From there you may be provided medication or counseling, every case is very unique. "There are things that can be done about it. Just because you have a disease, like diabetes or any other illness, there's treatment available," said Fryer.

If you, or someone you know, is suffering from depression seek help immediately. The worst thing you can do it wait, according to officials. If you have an emergency you can contact the Crisis Hot Line at 1-800-621-8504.

Brittany CostelloNewschannel 6