October is National Depression Education and Awareness Month. After decades of being a “hidden illness,” depression is now recognized as a legitimate health risk that affects 21 million people worldwide [World Health Organization]. It is disabling and can be characterized by three categories of symptoms, including mood, physical, and cognitive changes that prevent a person from functioning normally.

Mood symptoms can include feeling sad, anxious, empty, irritable, or restless. Physical symptoms can include changes in sleep, appetite, and energy levels as well as persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment. Cognitive or thought symptoms can include difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions as well as feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or helplessness.

More than 80% of all people with depression can be successfully treated, but less than half of those suffering seek treatment. While depression is finally “out of the shadows,” many who suffer from it – or exhibit symptoms that may indicate the presence of depression – still feel self-conscious or embarrassed about getting a diagnosis or seeking treatment. Fortunately, the Internet Age has made things simpler and less stressful. Today, anyone can go online, 24/7, and take a free, anonymous screening for depression. While not diagnostic, these self-assessments give a good indication of whether you should seek further help.

Maria Droste Counseling Center now provides such a screening. Take our free depression self-assessment by visiting our screening site. If you are battling with depression, you are not alone. Counseling can help you learn to overcome your depression and find happiness. If you would like to speak to a therapist, contact our intake department at 303-867-4600.