I received my October NAMI Santa Clara newsletter by email this morning and I noticed that the week of October 6-12 is NAMI’s Mental Illness Awareness Week. There are quite a few activities sponsored by my local Santa Clara County NAMI including an All Communities Mental Health Education Day on October 12th in San Jose.
I also noticed that Thursday, October 10th is National Depression Screening Day. If you would like to take an anonymous online screening for depression, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, general anxiety disorder, an eating disorder, an adolescent depression screening, or post-traumatic stress disorder, please visit the Screening for Mental Health website to take a free, anonymous screening. If you’re not sure how you’re feeling, you can pick a screening based on how you’ve been feeling lately. Since I have been on anti-depressants since 2000, I took the depression screening. The questions were familiar since I fill out similar forms at my psychiatrist and therapy visits. My anti-depressant is working, however, because my screening results didn’t detect any signs of depression. This type of anonymous, online screening is useful for people who want to keep their mental health status private. Screening for Mental Health also offers screening kits for qualified organizations, clinics, and hospitals to purchase and use as a resource for their clients and patients.
While my experience with depression was in college at UC Santa Cruz, my later mental health problems were of a more severe nature. I can still relate to people who experience depression, because I’ve been there. This week, my therapist encouraged me to continue taking my anti-depressant. I had suggested tapering off the Celexa or trying a lower dose, but she didn’t think this was a good idea. I told her I might talk to my psychiatrist about switching back to Wellbutrin. I took Wellbutrin regularly starting in 2002, but when I was hospitalized in 2011, the psychiatrist switched my anti-depressant to Celexa because he said it is better for people who experience psychosis. My regular psychiatrist never mentioned this to me, but maybe he didn’t think it made any difference. I’m not sure. I didn’t notice any difference when I switched from Wellbutrin to Celexa. I started taking Wellbutrin when I was living in Washington, DC partly because it gave me more energy. I told my psychiatrist that when I came home from work every day I was so tired I went to sleep. The Wellbutrin helped with my lack of energy. I always thought if I stopped taking Wellbutrin, I wouldn’t have enough energy during the day. This didn’t happen when I switched to Celexa, so who knows?
Like any mental illness, depression can be extremely debilitating. If you know anyone who might suffering from mental health problems, please encourage them to seek professional help.