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Paynesville Press - October 9, 2002

Mental health screening to be offered free

By Michael Jacobson

Some 70 percent of people with depression also have anxiety symptoms. Post-traumatic stress disorder is often accompanied by depression. And manic depression (bipolar disorder) is often misdiagnosed as unipolar depression.

On Thursday, Oct. 10, and Friday, Oct. 11, the Paynesville Area Health Care System will offer free, anonymous mental health screenings that cover all of these disorders to better help residents figure out what may be wrong and where they should go for help.

The screenings will be held at the Paynesville Area Hospital from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on that Thursday, and at the Paynesville Area Center from 1 to 7 p.m. on that Friday.

Attendees at the free screening will have the opportunity to hear an educational presentation on these disorders, will complete a written screening test, and will talk one-on-one with a mental health professional. Anyone who appears to need further evaluation will be given referrals to local treatment services.

Depression symptoms include feelings of sadness and hopelessness, loss of pleasure in usual activities, changes in sleep and appetite, vague aches and pains, and thoughts of death or suicide. It affects 17-20 million Americans annually.

Manic depression includes depression symptoms but is also accompanied by mood swings. The high, or manic, state may be pleasurable and euphoric or tense and irritable. Perilous lapses of judgment are common, as is decreased sleep, rapid speech, abuse of drugs or alcohol, and sometimes hallucinations. Unlike depression, which occurs more often in women, manic depression occurs nearly equally in men and women.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is experienced in the aftermath of trauma. It often involves recurrent dreams of the traumatic event, outbursts of anger, inability to sleep, attempts to avoid anything that reminds the person of the trauma, and a general numbness or detachment. The symptoms can appear at any age and often donŐt appear for months after the incident. It is often accompanied by depression.

Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive worry over everyday things and can be very hard to detect because it is not as dramatic as its cousin, post-traumatic stress disorder. It is often accompanied by physical symptoms such as nausea and sweating. The intensity and constancy of the anxiety interferes with daily functioning. It often co-occurs with depression.

Thursday, Oct. 10, is National Depression Screening Day.

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