07 October 2015

Clinic Brings Awareness to Depression Education
By Clarissa Darr and Claudia Clemmings, Barquist Army Health Clinic

A Soldier discloses to his therapist, “It is very hard to get out of bed every day to go to work or do things I use to enjoy.”

The National Alliance on Mental Health published that approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S., or roughly 43.7 million people, experience mental illness in a given year.

Depression is a mental illness that has been prevalent for many years; a disease that can affect anyone regardless of age, race, rank or socioeconomic status. If the symptoms are not recognized, leaving the illness untreated, depression can be debilitating and, for some, can even lead to suicide. The federal government has designated October as National Depression Education and Awareness Month and the Fort Detrick Barquist Army Health Clinic is using this time to educate Soldiers, family members and civilians about symptoms of depression and the available behavioral health resources.

A study completed by the Army’s Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members found that the rate of major depression is five times higher among Soldiers than their civilian counterparts. Service Members and their families go through the stress of deployments, temporary duty assignments, permanent changes of station and coping with separation from friends, family and other supports; all situations that can increase risk factors for experiencing depression.

It is important for people to understand that depression is treatable. It is not a character flaw, a sign of weakness, nor is it an issue in which to be ashamed. Depression is an illness that affects the entire aspect of a person.The American Psychiatric Association suggests that, if you or someone you know is experiencing any four of the below symptoms for more than a two week period, should you be evaluated for treatment of depression.

Symptoms of depression include:

Body: Fatigue, body aches, significant change in appetite, sleep disturbance

Mind: Racing thoughts, negative thinking, negative self-concept, suicidal thoughts

Mood: Sadness, despair, guilt, lack of self-worth, hopeless, irritability

Social: Loss of interest in social interaction, lack of desire in activities, withdrawal from others, loss of sex drive

The treatment of depression involves various methods of therapy as well as medications that can be prescribed. Additional factors important for the maintenance of a stable mood include:

  • An average of 7-8 hours of sleep a night
  • Routine exercise; at least 30 minutes walking 5 days per week
  • Leisure time
  • Avoidance of depressants (i.e. alcohol)
  • Exposure to natural light for at least 20 minutes per day (in the morning is helpful for mood and sleep pattern maintenance)

It is very important to remember that people with depression do not just ‘snap out of it’ over night; rather they improve over time with consistent treatment.

The Fort Detrick Barquist Army Health Clinic has an Internal Behavioral Health Consultant that can do screening, education, referrals for medication and/or cognitive behavioral therapies. Appointments can be made through your primary care manager, or by calling (301)619-7175.

Service Members are eligible for behavior health care in the clinic through video teleconference when seeing psychiatrists or therapists. Family members are assessed in the clinic for appropriate treatment and are referred into the community for therapy   Service Members who receive treatment through the Veterans Association clinic can be evaluated at the VA clinic. For more information about VA clinic appointments, call (301) 624-1200.

The BAHC also offers classes, open to the entire Fort Detrick community, on Wednesdays from 1:30-2:30 p.m. on both sleep and the Performance Triad. For more information about these classes, call (301) 619-7175. For Service Members, there are therapeutic groups/individual sessions for stress management and healthy living which can be scheduled by calling (301) 619-0345.

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