Editor’s Note: Annie Lane is off this week. The following column was originally published in October 2016.
Dear Annie: I want people to know that depression can happen to someone even if her life appears wonderful. I know from experience. A few years ago, I had just married a wonderful man and moved to a beautiful home in a fun new city. I had been looking forward to these changes for months. However, once we moved, I found myself deeply sad and irritable.
I remember when our wedding pictures came in the mail from our photographer. I felt as if I were looking at a stranger when I saw myself. The happy bride in the photos seemed a million miles away. I wondered what was wrong with me. How could I have been so happy just a few weeks before? I was absolutely positive that I would never smile again the way I smiled in those photos. On top of that, I felt so embarrassed and ashamed to be so unhappy. After all, a large group of my friends and family just celebrated with us, brought gifts and wished us well.
I forced myself to join a social group in my new city and saw my primary care physician for a referral to a mental health professional. She diagnosed me with depression and explained that a major life change can sometimes contribute to depression, even if that life change is something great. I got treatment and have felt much better. I want other people to know that they don’t have to suffer with depression. There is help available. – Chris in Massachusetts
Dear Chris: Thanks so much for coming forward and reminding all of us that depression is common and treatable. Today, Oct. 6, is National Depression Screening Day. About 10 percent of Americans suffer from depression each year. Symptoms to look out for include feelings of hopelessness and pessimism, decreased energy, insomnia or oversleeping, and significant changes in weight. If you feel you or a loved one may be depressed, see a licensed therapist.
Anyone can take a free and anonymous depression screening at http://www.HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org.
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