• May is Mental Health Month

    May 1, 2010

    Every year since 1949, Mental Health America (formerly the National Mental Health Association) has sponsored “May is Mental Health Month.” According to their website,

    Depression affects more people than any other mental health condition–more than 19 million Americans each year.

    Everyone gets down from time to time, but sometimes it’s more than “the blues.” Clinical depression is a real illness that can be treated effectively. Unfortunately, fewer than half of the people who have depression seek treatment.

    Too many people believe that depression is a normal part of life’s ups and downs, rather than a real health problem. As a result, they may delay seeking help or not seek help at all. It’s important to know that depression is real, and it can be effectively treated.

    What are the signs of depression?

    • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
    • Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping more than usual
    • Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
    • Loss of pleasure and interest in once-enjoyable activities
    • Restlessness, irritability
    • Difficulty concentrating at work or at school, or difficulty remembering things or making decisions
    • Fatigue or loss of energy
    • Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
    • Thoughts of suicide or death

    If you experience five or more of these symptoms for two weeks or longer, you may have depression. See a doctor or mental health professional for help right away. It’s also important to connect to the people in your life who care about you and can give you support.

    My 2008 book, Losing God: Clinging to Faith Through Doubt and Depression, follows my four-year struggle with major depression from 1996 to 2000. Despite many wonderful people telling me I might have a mood disorder, I spent most of those years believing my problem was spiritual. If you know someone you believe is depressed–someone who displays the symptoms above–and who feels as though they’ve lost God in the confusion, this book might help.

    Beginning Monday on this website, I’ll offer thoughts on how you can spread some hope by spreading the word about this book during Mental Health Month. Check back on Monday!

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