13:49 ET DEPRESSION SCREENING CAN HELP EVERYONE
On that day, you can get a free screening for depression in your local
area. You won't be asked your name and no one will make any judgments
about you. You will be given the opportunity to answer questions on a
printed form and meet individually with a clinician for a brief
As readers know, I stay on the soapbox calling for mental disorders to
be given equal parity with ''physical'' disorders in our healthcare
system and in how society thinks about them. The reason is that mental
disorders are physical disorders, and clinical depression is one of
Depression is a disorder in areas of the brain that process thoughts
and feelings. It may be due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters or to
a flaw in the expression of receptors that the neurotransmitters plug
into. When something goes wrong in these brain areas, it cannot help
but be reflected in a person's thoughts and feelings.
In the case of depression, you may feel helpless, worthless and
hopeless. You may feel like giving up. It's important to realize that
these abnormal feelings are not accurate but are part of the
depression. It is as if your brain is tricking you, but you can't do
anything to stop it. If your brain were working normally, you would not
have these morose feelings, and they will fade away when treatment
begins to take effect.
Depression can also produce symptoms other than those associated with
mood, such as impaired thinking or memory, inability to concentrate,
disturbed sleep patterns, fatigue, change in weight or appetite, and
other bodily symptoms such as headaches or other pains, digestive
problems and sexual dysfunction.
A person with depression can no more cure the condition by an act of
will than can a person with diabetes or heart disease. It takes more
than that. It takes knowing and using the appropriate therapy.
Depression is more common than high blood pressure. It's twice as
common in women as in men. One in eight Americans will be affected by
depression during his lifetime. Suicide occurs in about 15 percent of
untreated serious depressions.
The tendency to get depression may be inherited. Stressful situations
or other environmental factors may trigger it.
A variety of medications are now available to treat depression. They
work gradually to correct the brain chemical imbalance and become
effective after a few weeks.
If you suffer from depression, it's important to realize that all your
thoughts and feelings sift through that gray cloud and come out flawed
on the other end. So until treatment lifts the cloud, don't expect too
much of yourself. Don't try to make important decisions. Don't expect
to snap out of your depression _ people rarely do without treatment.
And remember to try very hard not to accept your negative thinking _
realize that it's part of the depression and will disappear as the
If you're a friend or family of a depressed person, the most important
thing you can do is help him or her get appropriate treatment. Give
your emotional support. Don't accuse the depressed person of being lazy
or faking illness or expecting him or her to ''snap out of it.''
Reassure the person that with time and treatment, he or she will feel
better. It could be a matter of life or death.
You can call toll-free, (800) 242-2211, to locate the free depression
screening site nearest to you for this coming Thursday. Simply press in
your zip code and a recording tells you the names of local sites and
the phone numbers to call for details.
If you think you might have depression, there's no reason to feel
ashamed. It is not your fault. The sooner you treat depression, the
better, and it just may save your life.
(Richard Harkness is a consultant pharmacist who writes on health care
topics. You can write him at 1224 King Henry Drive, Ocean Springs, MS
39564. His e-mail address is rharkn(at)aol.com. Volume of mail
prohibits individual replies; selected letters will be answered in his
(c) 1999, The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.).
Visit The Sun Herald Online at http://www.sunherald.com/
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
AP-NY-10-06-99 1304EDT< -0-
By Richard Harkness
Knight Ridder Newspapers
15:28 ET N.Y. DOWNPLAYS BIOTERRORISM REPORT
NEW YORK, Oct 11, 1999 (AP Online via COMTEX) -- City officials
downplayed a report that suggests the CIA is investigating whether the
recent West Nile-like encephalitis outbreak was deliberately triggered
by Iraqi bioterrorists.
15:28 ET NOBEL MEDICINE PRIZE GOES TO GUENTER BLOBEL FOR PROTEIN RESEARCH
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Oct 11, 1999 (AP Worldstream via COMTEX) -- Dr.
Guenter Blobel of The Rockefeller University in New York won the Nobel
Prize for medicine Monday for protein research that shed new light on
diseases including cystic fibrosis and early development of kidney
15:28 ET STUTTERING BIRDS COULD AID HUMANS
UPI Science News
SEATTLE, Oct. 11 (UPI) _ The colorful zebra finch _ a common pet bird _
could hold the clue for treatment of the estimated 2 million Americans
15:28 ET KENYA STEPS UP EFFORTS TO ERADICATE POLIO BY 2000
NAIROBI (Oct. 11) XINHUA - The Kenyan government has finalized
its plans to conduct this year's polio immunization campaign across the
country in a bid to achieve the goal to eradicate the disease by the
end of 2000.
15:28 ET NUMBER OF POSSIBLE E. COLI CASES RISES
LONDON, Ont., Oct 10, 1999 (The Canadian Press via COMTEX) -- The
number of people possibly infected by a dangerous strain of E. coli
bacteria spread by animals at an annual fair has risen to 41, the
Middlesex-London Health Unit says.
13:48 ET CONGRESS WADES INTO HMO DEBATE
WASHINGTON, Oct 07, 1999 (AP Online via COMTEX) -- The House, preparing
for a series of showdown votes on patient protections, confronted the
politically charged issue of HMOs and whether injured Americans should
be allowed to sue them.
13:48 ET R.I. FREEZES HMO'S ASSETS
PROVIDENCE, R.I., Oct. 7 (UPI) _ The assets in Rhode Island of New
England's largest health maintenance organization have been frozen.
Regulators placed the Rhode Island division of the financially troubled
13:50 ET STUDY: OBESITY CAN SHORTEN LIFESPAN
Oct 06, 1999 (AP Online via COMTEX) --A study of more than 1 million
Americans provides the most convincing evidence yet that simply being
overweight can cut your life short.
13:50 ET HOUSE NEARS VOTE ON HEALTH CARE
WASHINGTON, Oct 06, 1999 (AP Online via COMTEX) -- Republicans labored
Wednesday to pass a costly package of health care tax breaks and to
kill a White House-backed bill to rein in insurance companies as
lawmakers clashed in politically charged debate.