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Depression The Silent Killer
by Jeff Houdyshelt
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The foundation of life is finding a way to cope with the little nuances that life will throw your way. Most of us can handle life's curve balls. We can control disappointments and things that upset us. That is most of us, but what if you are suffering from severe Depression. What then?

Dealing with Depression is a very eye opening experience. If you have ever dealt with it, then you know what I mean. Depression causes you to withdraw into your own body. You cut ties with everything and everyone. Just getting out of bed is a supreme challenge in of itself. It takes away everything you hold dear.

When you go through an episode of this life changing mental disorder, you invest all your time and emotions in trying tojust function from day to day Webster's dictionary defines depression as: an act of depressing or a state of being depressed: as a: a pressing down: lowering b (1): a state of feeling sad: dejection (2): a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies c (1): a reduction in activity, amount, quality, or force (2): a lowering of vitality or functional activity.

As you can see from the definition, depression affects every facet of your life. It changes or alters everything you do or see. The Nation Mental Health America Organization states that" this disease has stricken 21 million people in the United States. Depression is a chronic illness that exacts a significant toll on America's health and productivity. It is the leading cause of disability for individuals aged 15 to 44."

The loss of productivity among U.S. workers due to depression is a staggering $31 billion dollars each year. Depression frequently co-occurs with a variety of medical illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and chronic pain and is associated with poorer health status and prognosis. It is also the principal cause of the 30,000 suicides in the U.S. each year. In 2004, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, third among individuals 15-24.

Noting all of these enormous numbers, as a society we try to cover up the diagnosis of Depression. In our society if you are diagnosed with Depression or any other mental illness, you are stuck with a label, a stigma will always be associated with your name. This causes people not to seek treatment because they do not want to be known as a mental health patient.

Depression is in every segment of our populous, and there are certain fields where being diagnosed with this disease will can be a career killer. Some occupations in that realm are police officers, firefighters, and military personnel. In those fields, a large portion of employees suffering from Depression do not seek medical treatment because once you seek treatment you are considered untrustworthy, you are off limits, taboo if you will.

The Daily Telegraph in London reports researchers questioned 800 superintendents and chief superintendents in England and Wales about their health. Nearly a quarter said they experienced moderate or severe anxiety, with a similar number saying they suffered from depression.

A FBI law enforcement bulletin from 1996 stated that "during 1994, a record 11 New York City police officers committed suicide; only two officers were killed by criminals that year. Two homicides and 11 suicides--at that rate, police officers are killing themselves faster than they are being killed by criminals." There are several factors why officers commit suicide. Getting ridiculed by other officers, loss of friends, the stigma that is associated with being diagnosed with a mental disorder, and limited career options.

Each year there are more officers that die from suicide than those that are killed in the line of duty. Easy access to a firearm, being shunned at work, and the loss of self worth are contributing factors as to why so many officers take their own life. While the exact number of officers, firefighters, and military personnel that suffer from Depression is not known, it is believed to be as high as 25 percent.

When compared to other career fields the actual number of workers with Depression is not much higher than those in the law enforcement field. Of course these are known cases. The real figures could be much more than what the experts think. What we do know is that we do not do enough to handle the rising numbers of people with Depression.

Since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the numbers of military personnel with PTSD and Depression in believed to be in the ten's of thousand's.An American Psychiatric Association survey highlights the issues that soldiers and their spouses cope with: More than one-third self report frequently experiencing feelings of - anxiety (military member 38%, military spouse 39%), - depression (military member 40%, military spouse 33%).

Additionally, the report states that " more than 60% of military members think that seeking help for mental health concerns would have a negative impact on their careers." Those numbers are equally as high in the police and fire services.
Mental illness is entrenched in every community, and in every career path. This we do know. What we also know is that we have yet to draw more attention to this problem. We have to make it easier for those people in high risk jobs to seek treatment and not be pushed to side and forgotten about.

The last thing that we know is that over 700,000 people commit suicide each year, with about 9% contributed to Depression according to a MedScape Research report in 2010. The time has come to develop a way to remove that social stigma that comes with a diagnoses of a mental health illness.
If we can educate our people on the fantastic numbers of depression sufferers, then we can make an avenue for those people to get the treatment they so desperately need.

Depression is a staggering disease with long lasting effects and consequences. We owe it to those with Depression. They deserve way to get treated without being afraid of what their families, friends, and coworkers treating like a person with the plague.

This subject is near and dear to my heart, as I have suffered with Depression for several years. Depression is a killer, but with the proper treatment, you can go on to lead a successful and productive life. Just as 60 Minutes reported Mike Wallace did for many years.

This story is dedicated to all my brothers and sisters around the world that are struggling with Depression. You can beat this disease with the right medication, and therapy. There is nothing to be afraid of.

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