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WIU hosts free depression screenings

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Thursday is National Depression Screening Day and local doctors say you shouldn't be afraid to step forward. In fact, doctors say depression is a normal part of life.

"We often feel like it's our fault," said Clinical Psychologist with Psychology Associates Dr. Frank Froman . "'I have depression and therefore it must be something that I'm doing wrong. It must be some weakness in me. It must be something bad that I've done.'"

And while life throws us all lemons now and then, it isn't always easy to make that hypothetical lemonade. Doctors say you could have depression when you don't look forward to anything in life and you're feeling down all the time.

Froman says depression is a common sickness and it can affect anyone. He says sometimes it comes after a loss or failure and sometimes it just shows up out of the blue. But he says if you ignore it, the condition can throw your life into a downward spiral.

"People who are depressed have a tendency to not only lose their jobs and not function," said Froman. "They can also lose their marriages, they can lose their houses, they can lose their incomes. And ultimately - if you have enough loss - you can wind up losing your life."

Froman says depression is something that got a bad stigma a long time ago. But he says that stigma is wrong and that people don't need to be afraid anymore to come forward.

"In this town there are more than a half-dozen psychiatrists and a ton of very good counselors who never were here even 30 or 40 years ago," said Froman. "So people are recognizing that there are issues that they want to confront, there's people that they want to see, and they're taking this out of the closet now in record numbers."

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, Froman says there are some things you can do. You can talk to a doctor or counselor, but he says it's also important to be social. He says all it takes is just interaction with at least one person every day. He says to just focus on getting up out of bed, getting dressed, and talking to one person. And follow this pattern every day. Taking a walk, he says, is something that helps, too.

Depression normally last a few weeks to a few months, he says. But if you have it once, Froman says you're likely to go through it again. 

In connection with National Depression Screening Day, Western Illinois University's Counseling Center is doing free anonymous screenings from 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock Thursday at the Counseling Center in Memorial Hall. 

These screenings can help with more than just depression. They can help diagnose bipolar disorder, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Once you're done, you can get information and talk over your results with a counselor. 

For more information, contact the University Counseling Center at 309-298-2453.
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