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Newhall Memorial offers free depression screenings

Posted: October 1, 2009 9:54 p.m.
Updated: October 2, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Depression. Though it effects nearly 19 million Americans, more than two-thirds of people that suffer from the condition never seek treatment.

That's why Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital is taking part in the October 8 National Depression Screening Day, which will include free and confidential screenings for depression, general anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder.

"Depression is a very common problem in our society, especially with the level of stress most people are under," said Arjun Reyes, MD and medical director of Henry Mayo's behavioral health unit.

"I think the stigma related to depression has improved, it's much more accepted today. Life is very stressful for most people, so almost everyone can relate," Reyes said.

Symptoms of depression include reduced energy levels, lack of motivation, increased stress or anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, deteriorating relationships, and decreased function at home and/or at work.

Attendees of the October 8 depression screening at Henry Mayo will participate in a ten minute survey, followed by an opportunity to discuss the results with a mental health professional and, if necessary, learn where to go for additional help.

The entire process can be completed within 20 to 30 minutes. "Depending on the level of depression, if it's mild to moderate, sometimes counseling alone will help," Reyes said. "If the symptoms are more severe, there are all kinds of anti-depressants available. Today's psychiatric medications are the best they've ever been in terms of side effects."

Reyes estimated that 70 percent of depression patients do extremely well with counseling and/or medication, with 20 percent only partially responsive.

"It's important for individuals experiencing depression to seek treatment so that they can function at their highest level and experience life the best way they can," Reyes said.

In addition to National Depression Day screenings, Henry Mayo will offer depressing screenings throughout the year at their popular "Care for Your Heart" health fairs.

"According to Mental Health America, nearly a quarter of the 600,000 people who experience a stroke in a given year will experience clinical depression, which can also be triggered by heart disease. We felt it was a natural fit to make screenings available at these corresponding outreach events," said Michael Dougherty, community relations representative at Henry Mayo's behavioral health unit.

Free seminars on mental health, depression, and "What Seniors Won‘t Tell You About Their Mental Health" can also be arranged for local groups or organizations through Henry Mayo's behavioral health unit.

For more information on National Depression Screening Day at Henry Mayo, please contact (661) 253-8326.


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