Depression affects millions
by Anne Hart Preus
Aug 28, 2014 | 1718 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Depression is a mental illness that affects approximately 35 million people in the United States, but it can be treated successfully.

Many factors can contribute to depression such as family history, chemical imbalances and major life changes, or illness can play a role in depression. It can also occur for no reason.

Symptoms of depression vary from person to person but the most common signs include: feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, sadness or irritability; loss of interest in family, friends, or activities normally enjoyed; loss of sexual desire; feelings of self-blame, guilt or loss or self-esteem; suicidal thoughts or actions; neglect of responsibilities and appearance; poor memory and inability to concentrate; self injury, such as cutting; sleep disturbances; lack of energy; unexplained aches and pains, fatigue and loss of appetite.

If any of these symptoms occur nearly every day for two weeks or more, a person should seek help right away.

Using alcohol or drugs can lead to or worsen depression.

The Life Help Region VI Mental Health Center at 113 A South Davis Ave. in Cleveland offers services for people suffering from depression.

Shay Aguzzi, county administrator for Life Help Region VI Mental Health Center said, "Depression is a mental illness. It is not something a person can just snap out of. "

Aguzzi said depression is one of the main reasons why people attempt suicide. A person may feel hopeless and see no reason to live.

"One visible sign that a person is depressed is that their hygiene suffers," said therapist Vicki Brocato.

"If a friend or family member thinks a person is depressed, it is best to talk them into voluntary treatment," said Aguzzi. "If a person refuses and the family is concerned, they can go to the chancery clerk and get committal papers.

“The chancery clerk contacts us and the sheriff's department picks up the person. We screen them and get information and make sure this is in the person's best interest. He has to see two doctors and needs to be a danger to himself or to others. If the doctors agree, then a hearing is set up,” said Aguzzi.

“Attorney Kirk Povall hears the committal cases. He looks at all the information and makes the decision to send the person to a state hospital or crisis center or private hospital. If the person cannot be stabilized, he is sent to the state hospital. There can be an order for outpatient treatment."

Brocato said, "Not everybody is melancholy. Sometimes a depressed person is irritable. Children can be depressed. They withdraw and often are overlooked."

"Depression can be caused chemically or environmentally by things like the death of a loved one. Depression can be genetic, said Brocato.

"To diagnose depression, a person has to meet a certain number of criteria. Major depression needs medication and therapy," said Brocato.

"It takes a good month for anti-depressants to take effect. They must be taken every day for at least four weeks. It is trail and error to get the right one," said Aguzzi. "It is not wise to just quit taking anti-depressants."

"We go on case by case to determine how long a person needs therapy," said Aguzzi. "Six weeks is a short term, but some clients need longer."

"Some people will go to family or their doctor seeking help. Their doctor will refer them here. Emergency rooms, schools and workplaces also refer clients," said Aguzzi.

Elementary schools have therapists who can refer children for services

There are 31 staff persons in -house at Cleveland's Life Help Mental Health Center.

A Mobile Response Team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Kim Morrison is the Mobile Crisis Response Therapist and can be reached by e-mail at or by phone during the day at 843-9445 and after hours at 1 866 -453-6216. Fees for services at Life Help are determined by income.