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Depression happens to 24 million Americans

By: Angela Ponivas, Special to The News Messenger
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The news can oftentimes be very depressing. In the past, I might have tried to ignore some of it by choosing to turn off the television or choosing to not read the newspaper but this is no longer a viable “coping skill.” Unfortunately, there are negative items in our community that affect each of us, directly or indirectly, that cannot be ignored. In the last month, we had a murder in Lincoln. Having a crime of this nature in Lincoln shook up many residents, particularly because Lincoln is known to be a safe place. Although Lincoln is still a safe place, residents came into the Lighthouse feeling traumatized, as some were witnesses of the murder. Children who live within the apartment complex where the murder occurred had nightmares after the event. Clearly, those who lived within the apartment complex or nearby were deeply affected by this crime. Last week, we had a fire at the Roseville Galleria. A person suffering with mental-health issues, who was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, is suspected of starting the fire. As a community, there are tremendous concerns about how this fire will further affect the economy of South Placer. Today, residents are struggling to not feel anxious. A safe place is hard to find and security has become an ideal but not a reality. This feeling of anxiousness, stress and depression is not unique to Lincoln or to South Placer. It is a feeling that most Americans are feeling. The News 10 Morning Show invited the Lighthouse’s clinical director, Teresa Rasor, and me to their set on Oct. 20 to raise awareness about depression and offer hope that there is help out there. In preparing for this interview, the statistics were staggering. Depression affects nearly 10 percent of Americans age 18 and over in a given year and more than 24 million people. More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease (17 million), cancer (12 million) and HIV/AIDS (1 million) About 15 percent of the population suffers from clinical depression at some time during their lifetime. Thirty percent of all clinically depressed patients attempt suicide; half of them die by suicide. To read these statistics is enlightening but not completely surprising, considering the multiple areas of uncertainty in which most Americans are grappling. In the past, we found security in government, security in our jobs, security in our 401k’s, security in our homes and security in our relationships, but for many, these securities have proven themselves to be unstable and most do not know where to turn to find peace of mind. As a result, individuals are experiencing depressive symptoms, which include feelings of fatigue, lethargy, loneliness, hopelessness, fearfulness, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. When feeling these emotions, individuals tend to isolate, experience changes in their appetite and have disruptions in their sleep patterns. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, you are not alone and there is no need to feel any shame about it. The good news is that depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric/emotional issues and 80 to 90 percent of those with depression respond positively to treatment and almost all patients gain relief from their symptoms. Even better news is that Lighthouse provides assessments and counseling for these issues at absolutely no charge to the community. This is a gift that I want to encourage residents to open and utilize. These services are offered free of charge because we want residents to have the help they need at the time they need it and not have to wait until they can afford it. If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious, please do not hesitate to call the Lighthouse. We are here for you and you are not alone. We will provide you with the support and the “skills and tools” necessary to help you through most of life’s challenges. For more information, please call 645-3300. Angela Ponivas is the Lighthouse Counseling & Family Resource Center’s executive director. Her phone is 645-3300 and Web site is lighthousefrc.com.