BOISE, Idaho — It's Mental Illness Awareness Week and there is a lot to be said about the importance of addressing mental health issues.
This conversation is especially important in 2020, as the pandemic, an election, wildfires and other factors are weighing on people's minds. In fact, early studies show depressive disorders are 4 times more common this year than the same timeframe in 2019.
"It has really taken a toll. We are social creatures by nature and we are losing that connectedness we have," said Regence Behavioral Health Consultant Fayth Dickenson. "So, we're seeing a huge rise in symptoms of depression and anxiety. In fact, three times more than we're used to seeing."
Along with Mental Health Illness Week, Thursday Oct. 8 is National Depression Screening Day. According to Mental Health America, only about a third of those suffering from depression actually seek out treatment.
"The depression screenings can really offer you a little bit of insight into where you are on that spectrum and when is it time to ask for help," Dickenson said.
Here are some signs and symptoms to watch for when it comes to depression:
- A persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood
- Sleeping too little, early morning awakening or sleeping too much
- Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Restlessness or irritability
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Thoughts of death or suicide
When it comes to seeking out help, Dickenson says the first line of defense is friends and family, along with primary care physicians. While there are plenty of resources out there, making a difference in someone's life is as easy as a conversation.
"You know, that comes down to every one of us, being willing to talk about our own struggles and encourage others to be able to talk about theirs," Dickenson said. "Being open about what we're all experiencing right now is the number one key."
Below are some resources to reach out to when dealing with depression or anxiety: