The Battle Against Depression: Let’s Talk About It
Depression is common – really common. Recent studies estimate that 1 in 5 American adults, approximately 43.8 million individuals, experience some kind of mental illness every year, and nearly 16 million adults experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year. Depression affects individuals of all age groups, genders, races, and socio-economic status. Depression is not just “feeling down,” and it is not a sign of weakness, yet the stigma surrounding depression and related disorders persists.
Members of the military and veterans face unique environmental stressors that magnify the impact of depression and related mood disorders. The University of Michigan Depression Center’s Military Support Programs and Networks (M-SPAN) is dedicated to the development and implementation of outreach and support programs for our nation’s military, veterans, and their families. These programs focus on peer support and resilience and include a special focus on military spouses and children as well as research on depression in these populations. The National Network of Depression Centers (NNDC) and M-SPAN are dedicated to supporting all aspects of military mental health.
This May, during mental health month, M-SPAN and NNDC are proud to join the LPGA as charity partners for the Volvik Championship, a new LPGA tour being held over Memorial Day weekend. The inaugural event will highlight and benefit military and veterans’ mental health. The tournament takes place between today through May 29 at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. It will be the second stop on the 2016 National LPGA Tour.
The battle against depression is one that we can win, but we have to speak up about it. Only a few decades ago, cancer was as misunderstood and stigmatized as depression is today. An increase in research funding in the 1960s and 1970s jumpstarted the national conversation and supported diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancers. Today, mortality rates for some of the most prevalent cancers have declined by nearly 40 percent.
Compare that to depression: between 1999 and 2014, suicide death rates have increased by 24 percent. Even worse, U.S. military veteran suicides average 22 per day. We can all play a part in raising awareness and supporting someone struggling with their own battle. Sadly, 85 percent of suicides can be traced to depression and other diagnosable mental illnesses.
Together we can change that number. Together we can defeat depression.