1 in 5 Minorities Struggle with Depression in the United States
July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. It is estimated that 1 in 5 minorities struggle with depression, which is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Depression is a serious condition that negatively effects how people think, feel and function in their daily lives. As one patient recently said:
”When you have depression, it’s not like you feel you can’t get off the couch.
It feels like you can’t get the couch off of you.”
Importantly, statistics show only about 25 percent of minorities who have major depression or other mental health disorders receive the medical help they need. Getting well begins with knowing the signs and symptoms of major depression.
What Are the Symptoms?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression symptoms vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
There are effective treatments that can help people with depression get well, including cognitive therapy and medications. What you need to know is that about 50 percent of the time, people do not respond to their first antidepressant medication. However, new advances in personalized medicine may help. GeneSight® is a pharmacogenomics test that your healthcare provider can order for you if you have moderate-to-very severe depression and have failed at least one antidepressant medication. The GeneSight test results can help your doctor better understand how your unique genomic makeup may impact certain common medicines used to treat depression. In a large clinical study patients with moderate-to-very severe depression who were currently failing medication, GeneSight-guided care resulted in a 50 percent improvement in patient remission compared to treatment-as-usual.
If you or someone you know is battling with depression, ask your doctor about treatment options. And, if you’re having a hard time finding a medication that works, ask your doctor about the GeneSight test. You can find more information about depression at National Alliance on Mental Illness website (www.NAMI.org) and for more information about genetic testing visit www.GeneSight.com. Remember, when it comes to mental illness, you are not alone.