October is National Depression Awareness Month. In observance of this month, on Thursday, the Army joined several organizations across America in recognition of National Depression Screening Day to inform the public about the signs and symptoms of depression. The public also learned the importance of seeking treatment and will be provided information about the availability of anonymous behavioral health screenings. The Army theme for 2013 is The Courage to Seek Help.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in ten U.S. adults report depression. Symptoms of depression may include persistent sadness, difficulty concentrating, hopelessness, fatigue, changes in appetite, insomnia, irritability, and in some instances, thoughts of suicide. While most people experience sadness at time in their lives, it is time to seek help when these feelings persist and begin to interfere with everyday life which may be a sign of clinical depression, a serious medical condition that if left untreated, may lead to other medical conditions.
Depression screening, as the first step towards getting well, helps to make people aware of key warning signs. Statistically two-thirds of people suffering from depression fail to seek care.
Clinical depression can be treated. Anonymous screening resources are available through the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, behavioral health and the local community.
Treatments may include therapy, medications or a combination of both.
What has the Army done
Enhanced Behavioral Health Screening is mandated across the Army. The Army conducts screening at five recognized touch points, exceeding the National Defense Authorization Act requirements, throughout the deployment cycle, to include an in-theater touchpoint and periodic annual screening.
What efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army is in the midst of a complete transformation to a proactive, integrated, metrics-driven and patient-centered Behavioral Health System of Care that is standardizing and optimizing clinical BH efforts and best practices for force readiness linked to its Ready and Resilient Campaign.
Why is this important to the Army?
Even the most severe cases of depression are treatable. It is most effective to start the treatment early as this helps to prevent the likelihood of recurrence of depression. The Army’s goal is to eliminate the stigma associated with seeking help for depression. It takes courage to seek help.