NORFOLK, Va. - This is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light is urging people to get screened and treated for depression.
"Depression affects approximately 16 million Americans annually," he said. "The likelihood of having a bout with depression in your life time is about 15 percent [meaning] one out of every six adults will have depression at some point in their lifetime."
Depression has been linked to chemical imbalances in the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it may also be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
"I often say if you had hypertension, you would want to treat it. The same thing goes for depression. If you have depression, you want to treat that as well," he said.
Dr. Light said the signs and symptoms of depression are much more than just feeling sad.
"Often depression manifests as lack of interest or pleasure, fatigue, sleeping too much or too little, eating too much or too little, leading to weight gain or weight loss, increasing irritability, difficulty with concentration and feeling worthless," he said. "Elderly patients don’t act depressed, but exhibit the other signs of depression."
Dr. Light said your primary care doctor can initiate screening. He also urged people having more serious symptoms, like thoughts of harming themselves, to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1−800−273−TALK or the Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center (no appointment or referral is needed) at 757-496-3500.