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06/01/2016 - Winston Churchill, Patty Duke, Linda Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Newton, Jimmy Piersall (professional athlete), Brooke Shields, Vincent Van Gogh, Ludwig Von Beethoven and Terry Bradshaw are familiar names in most households. They are famous people from a variety of different disciplines and eras. Political leaders, celebrities and athletes; and, besides their fame, they all have a major commonality. According to Butler Hospital, free standing Psychiatric Hospital located in Rhode Island, and an affiliated teaching hospital for Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, every famous person listed has battled depression. Some as a component of Bipolar disorder.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that major depression is one of the most common disorder in the U.S. Among mental disorders, reports the World Health Organization, depression carries the "heaviest burden of disability." According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) rates of a major depressive episode among youth and suicidal thoughts among adults was similar to, but slightly higher than, the national average. Also according to SAMHSA, 60.9% of adolescents with a Major Depressive Episode did not receive any treatment.

I share all of this information to illustrate how prevalent depression is, not only in the nation but also in Wyoming. Many famous people have openly struggled with depression as well as many historical figures. In last month's article, I wrote about the stigma that counseling carries and how it deters many from beneficial treatment. This is serious because the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of the U.S. and, in Wyoming, suicide rates are higher than the national average. This can be a life and death issue.

If you have concerns that you, or a loved one, may be battling depression, there a few things you can look for:

● A chronic depressed or irritable mood.

● Loss of enjoyment in pleasurable activities.

● Changes in weight and/or appetite.

● Changes in sleep patterns.

● Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or guilt.

● Regular thoughts of death.

● Struggle to focus, make decisions or concentrate.

The above list is not meant for a self-diagnosis but is meant to give some tangible symptoms to pay attention to. If you, or a loved one, seems to exhibit many of these symptoms, please do not hesitate to combat the stigma and see a counselor or a doctor. You are not "crazy" as the stigma may argue, but rather much more typical than is realized.

Many don't receive treatment and walk around silently suffering. Many famous people have been open about their own battles with depression and the treatment they have received. The good news is that treatment has proven to be very effective for depression and many feel they are living a new life of freedom. Don't quietly suffer with something that can be deadly because of an inaccurate stigma. Don't allow an inaccurate stigma keep you from finding a very obtainable relief.

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Chris Walsh


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