Depression: One woman’s journey from out of the darkness

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A call to action. Today is the day -- doctors want anyone suffering with depression to pick up the phone and make a call for help. Don't know if you have depression? One woman walks us through her journey coming out of the darkness.

Calls are up 25 percent at Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health in Hoffman Estates. The increase in volume came within one day of Robin Williams suicide – a man who in life made people laugh … in death it seems he has many seeking help.

Cliff Saper, PhD, Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health clinical psychologist: “That first call is the most difficult thing, that’s where the courage is required. After that it’s easy. After that we can do a quick assessment, and we can get you in a treatment that fits for you.”

It sounds simple and it is – clinical psychologist Cliff Saper says depression is treatable with cognitive behavioral therapies and, for some, medications.

Dr. Saper: “Those therapies in and of themselves help people change the way they’re thinking about themselves, change their behavior and help change their feelings. If that’s not enough we can look at psychotropic medications.”

One in 10 Americans suffer from depression – and the triggers vary. For some it’s a biological cause. For others it’s the death of a family member or friend, financial burdens or job loss. There’s post-traumatic stress and post-partum depression. And for kids and teens …

Dr. Saper: “We find more than ever adolescents are really in a pressure cooker environment in terms of school, family and community. And now with a lot of cyber bullying going on, social media, fragile kids are very affected by messages they are getting from all over.”

No matter your age – when symptoms come to light, take notice.

Dr. Saper: “I think it’s important for anybody who is feeling low, depressed, blue, not eating, not sleeping, who’s routine has been disrupted or somebody affected by a major illness … those people need to look at themselves and take a simple screening test.”

Miriam Ament, suffer from depression: “I would have days where I would be really, really down, not be able to get out of bed. Sort of feel like everyone was against me.”

The symptoms started in her teens. In her twenties, Miriam Ament sought counseling and tried medication off and on, but nothing clicked.

Miriam Ament: “It reached a boiling point when I was 30, 31. I was in a really bad, bad place. That’s when I really needed to seek help, and I did.”

In her darkest moment … somehow, a change in course

Miriam Ament: “After being hospitalized a few times I said, ‘I don’t want to live like this anymore. I have so much potential.’”

Miriam Ament” “Feeling alone and feeling like no one cares about me, there’s no hope, and I’m so helpless and I’m so down, it’s hard to get out of your head. What I know now what I didn’t know then is there are so many resources and so many people who care and you’re not alone.”

She sought out a new therapist and strictly adhered to a medication regimen. The formula worked.

Miriam Ament: “If you knew me 12 years ago you’d never think I’d be sitting here talking about this.”

But she is – eager to share her struggle with others.

Miriam Ament: “You can’t find people to talk about it because there’s such a stigma. For so long I didn’t talk about it.”

Now, she’s made it her full-time job. The 43-year-old left her job at a large law firm to start ‘No Shame On You’ … an organization dedicated to building awareness and spreading resources.

Miriam Ament: “I thought to myself, I can do this. I can change people’s lives. There aren’t people talking about it. I don’t want people to be ashamed. I want people to get help. I want to save lives. I want people to know it’s ok.”

 

You can find a free, anonymous mental health screening at www.helpyourselfhelpothers.org

To learn more about National Depression Screening Day, go to http://mentalhealthscreening.org/programs/ndsd

To contact Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health, call 855-383-2224, or go to ABBHH.org

 To learn more about No Shame On You, go to facebook.com/noshameonu

 And more from Medical Watch here

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