National Depression Screening Day

from Get evaluated tomorrow (October 11). It’s free, anonymous, and takes less than ten minutes. Over 1,000 sites nationwide will offer free mental health evaluations to the public tomorrow for National Depression Screening Day. This may be an obvious point, but I’ll make it anyway: there’s no actual urine test or blood lab that can tell you whether or not you have depression. Another straightforward observation: Unlike, say, some STIs, depression is usually symptomatic. You’re not going to waltz into a clinic, feeling like roses, and be told you’re actually depressed. Right? Humor me for a minute longer. Like all mental disorders, a diagnosis of clinical depression is to some extent subjective. So a screening can’t give you a positive or negative result. But it can promote awareness of the actual signs and symptoms of depression, explains Dr. Douglas Jacobs, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and founder of National Depression Screening Day. In the early 1990s, when Jacobs first designed the screening program, the National Institutes of Mental Health had identified depression as a widespread but under-diagnosed disorder. “I had this idea that psychiatry should do what our medical colleagues do, to apply principles of health screening to a mental disorder,” said Jacobs. This public health approach plays into the idea that the mental health community is always trying to drive home: that depression is a disease, and a treatable one at that.

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