Letter to the Editor: Depression is not a choice

To the Editor:

There are a lot of myths surrounding depression, the two most common being that depression is triggered by a negative life event, and that people who are depressed should find something that makes them happy so they can “snap out of it.” Neither misconception accurately portrays the condition, and both feed into its stigmatization.

Depression is a serious medical condition that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, affects approximately eight percent of the U.S. population over age 12. Although there is effective treatment available, less  than 35 percent of those living with depression seek professional help.

Individuals may be reluctant to get help for a variety of reasons - maybe they think they can overcome depression on their own, or they believe that no one will understand how they feel.

Depression affects an estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States. It is a common and serious mood disorder that alters how individuals think, feel and behave. Unlike being unhappy, depression is an intense feeling of deep sadness that can last for days, weeks, or even months. The symptoms can include feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, rejection, poor concentration, lack of energy, sleep problems and sometimes suicidal thoughts. Depression is not a choice; it is an illness.

If you, or someone you know, are experiencing suicidal thoughts, get help immediately. Call the National Suicide Prevenion Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Depression is a treatable condition. Talk to your primary physician or call SAMHSA’s National Helplne at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to get the help you need to overcome depression.

If you, or someone you know, are struggling with depression and would like extra support and someone to talk to, I may be reached by email at gottahavehope38@gmail.com or by sending a letter to 559 W Broadway Street, Winona, MN 55987.

Respectfully submitted,
Mark Jacobson
Peer Support Specialist
Winona, MN