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Got the Blues?

Faculty, staff, and students can get screened on National Depression Screening Day

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Depression affects 19 million adults every year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. If you think you may be suffering from depression, you can get help.

Today is National Depression Screening Day, part of Mental Health Awareness Week. Students, faculty, and staff can find free, anonymous depression screenings at several sites around campus, with doctors available to answer questions and suggest resources.

The screenings are designed to help people realize that depression is treatable, says Barbara Lewis, a psychiatrist at BU’s Student Health Services. “They don’t realize what they’re feeling may be depression, that it’s a medical illness in the same way that diabetes is an illness,” she says. “It’s important to talk to someone before the symptoms get more severe and serious.”

Signs of depression include persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety, sleep problems, loss of appetite, overeating for comfort, irritability, restlessness, or difficulty concentrating.

The screenings involve a short test, says Lewis. Participants will be asked several questions, such as whether they feel hopeless or if they have had a change in sleep patterns or energy levels or thoughts about suicide. “We then tell them how they might follow up, and it’s all anonymous,” Lewis says.

People who have noticed mood or other changes in friends or family members are also encouraged to come to the screening for information.

“Depression screenings should be routine,” says Lewis. “With the change in the economy, there have been more people who are depressed. There are resources on campus if people are having trouble.”

Screenings will be held from noon to 7 p.m. at the Danielsen Institute, 185 Bay State Rd.; the Women’s Center, GSU basement, 775 Commonwealth Ave.; the Psychological Services Center, 648 Beacon St., fifth floor; and the Dance Stage area at FitRec, 915 Commonwealth Ave. There will also be an information table in the GSU Link, run by Active Minds, a nonprofit, student-run mental health awareness, education, and advocacy group.

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

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