Abilene group raises awareness of depression for national screening day


ABILENE, Texas - Depression was highlighted by mental health groups across the nation Thursday for National Depression Screening Day, and an Abilene mental health center is helping raise awareness.

A depression screening is a series of questions that will ultimately determine if show signs of depression. Suicide is often linked with depression, and the state of Texas ranked third in the nation for the number of adults with serious thoughts of suicide, according to Mental Health America.

The Betty Hardwick Center for Mental Health and Developmental Disability Authority serves Callahan, Jones, Shackelford, Stephens, and Taylor counties. The center aims to help those with mental health illness.

Nancy Elliot, the adult program administrator at the Betty Hardwick Center, said there are several signs to look out for when it comes to depression.

"[Signs include] appetite, either eating too much or not eating enough; either sleeping all the time, not getting out of bed, or not sleeping at all, and being very worried," Elliott said.

Elliot said they have two goals at the Betty Hardwick Center, to keep patients out of crisis and keep them stable. She said holidays can oftentimes worsen a person's depression.

"Holidays are definitely a time where people have to watch themselves or if they have a loved one in their family that is having problems with depression or is being treated with depression, it can often get worse during the holidays," Elliot said.

She recommends that if you know someone that might show signs of depression or have suicidal thoughts, you should encourage them to get help.

"It's a chemical imbalance in the brain that is treatable with medication, and then counseling can help as well, and I think it's just a matter of accepting it's not a weakness," Elliot said.

Depression and suicide are also very common among teens. There's a national suicide prevention lifeline available for anyone who is having suicidal thoughts, 1-800-273-8255.