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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 09/29/11
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
Patient Info: For information about UC Health psychiatric services, call 513-558-7700. For information on depression-related studies at UC, call 513-558-3249. More information on UC Health psychiatrists is available at
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UC HEALTH LINE: National Depression Screening Day Provides Help, Education

CINCINNATI—Depression is a serious mental illness, affecting an estimated 121 million people worldwide and ranked by the World Health Organization as the leading cause of disability.

But even though most people with a depressive illness can get better with treatment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, the majority of sufferers never seek help. For one thing, depression itself can immobilize someone. But depression also carries a social stigma, making it difficult for sufferers to open up about the problem.

National Depression Screening Day, which this year takes place Thursday, Oct. 6, serves as a potential first step to treatment for anyone who suspects he or she might have a depressive illness. Held each October during Mental Illness Awareness Week, it’s designed to educate the public about symptoms and effective treatments for depression in addition to offering individuals the opportunity to be screened.

UC Health Psychiatry and the University of Cincinnati (UC) Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience will offer screenings between 8 and 11 a.m. and noon and 4 p.m. on the first floor of UC Health University Hospital, near the cafeteria. (A private setting will be provided for interviews.)

"The screening consists of a brief, confidential interview with one of the clinicians from our program,” says Erik Nelson, MD, a UC Health psychiatrist and associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience. "The interview focuses on how the person has been feeling over the past few weeks and whether he or she has been experiencing any of the symptoms of depression to a significant degree.

"The results of the interview provide the person with information about whether he or she is likely to benefit from further evaluation and possibly treatment of depression, and referrals are given so that the person can pursue these options if he or she chooses.”

Nelson says that when someone is suffering from depression, some or all of the following symptoms are present for the past two weeks or longer:

• Sad mood or feeling down
• Loss of interest in activities
• Sleep and appetite changes
• Fatigue
• Poor concentration
• Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
• Thoughts of death or suicide

There are a number of highly effective treatments available to help people recover from depression, Nelson says. These primarily include medications and psychotherapy, but in some treatment-resistant cases electroconvulsive therapy or brain stimulation therapies might prove effective.

"Depression has a significant effect on a person’s well-being and also impacts their level of functioning,” Nelson says. "People with a depressive illness need to know that help is available, and National Depression Screening Day plays a major role in getting the word out.”

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