Discussion covers clinical depression

by Amy Olson

Though most people get the blues once in awhile, some people experience debilitating depression that affects the quality of their lives.
That type of clinical depression was the topic of discussion at a brown bag lunch hosted by the University Employee Assistance Program on Wednesday at the St. Paul Student Center.
The discussion was part of a quarter-long initiative to stimulate dialog on clinical depression, which affects 10 to 20 percent of the population.
According to David Johnson, director of the University’s Employee Assistance Program, clinical depression is more pervasive than most people realize — especially for women.
“Women are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression than men,” Johnson said.
Clinical depression can be caused by traumatic events which alter brain chemistry, making it a difficult disease to understand and recognize, he said.
Johnson said that even children as young as three years old can suffer from clinical depression. He added that depression in young children can be difficult to diagnose because they lack the verbal skills to explain how they feel.
Douglas G. Jacobs, director of the National Depression Screening Day and faculty member at Harvard Medical School, said more than 80 percent of patients who have depression can be treated successfully within three months.
“Treatments include anti-depressant medicines as well as traditional methods of psychotherapy,” Johnson said.
In addition to the video and discussion, the brown bag lunches provide pamphlets on depression.
Free telephone screenings are available to University employees and their families. Johnson said the screenings can provide a preliminary indication for those who suffer from depression.