Mental health professionals stress seeking help for severe depression

Although Robin Williams death has sparked interest and concern about depression, this is by no means a new problem. Major depression is the number one mental health disorder in the country. At least seven percent of all adults, some 16 million people, suffered at least one major depressive episode in the past year. The big problem is people don't seek treatment because there is still such a stigma. For many people, it's a matter of pride. They don't want to be 'labeled' as having a mental illness. But, without help, the results can be catastrophic for a person suffering from severe depression. It's unfortunate that it would take something like this to happen to get public attention.Joy Doering serves as president of NAMI Birmingham. NAMI stands for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. For Doering, depression hits close to home. Her daughter lives with depression.{} "Twenty five{}percent of the population suffer from one form or another. Any mental problem falls into this category," says Doering.

Doering believes there is a stigma attached to depression and mental illness.

"They're worried it will get back to their employer, 'oh my goodness, should we have this person working in our facility?"

Dr. Richard Shelton, a psychiatrist and professor at{}UAB specializes in depression.

"There's a tremendous amount of stigma with depression," says Shelton.{}"Probably about one in four people get adequate treatment. And half the people seek any treatment at all. And that's most often because of their perception of 'what will people think."He sees the impact depression can have.{}"Problems at work. Problems in relationships. Difficulties parenting." It can be especially difficult for men to seek out treatment.{} "They're more likely to 'tough it out' and just deal with whatever the problem is."Those who work in mental health stress the importance of seeking help.{} "Just talk with a health care professional, someone in the health profession as a starting point. The case being, not everyone has to be treated with medications. There are plenty of psychological treatments that are effective in many people," says Shelton.Shelton adds, about fifteen percent of the population will be depressed at some point in their lives.{}If a parent is depressed, their children are more likely to have significant mental illness as a result.{} Anyone suffering from severe depression or having suicidal thoughts is encouraged to seek out help:

The Crisis Center: (205) 323-7777

NAMI Birmingham (800) 950-6264

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255

Veterans Crisis Line (800) 273-8255