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Robin Williams' death sparks renewed conversation about mental health

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression


SAN ANTONIO – While much of the nation still grapples with the sudden death of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams, many are talking about what is believed to have led to his suicide.

"As tragic as it was, it gives us a chance to once again talk about this disorder called depression," said Dr. Harry Croft of the American Psychiatric Association.

Croft says there is widespread misconception of depression which partly stems from the way we talk about it.

"We use the word depressed to discuss everything from being sad, being unhappy, being down a little bit, all the way to an illness called major depressive disorder, clinical depression," he said.

Croft points to the nine symptoms of depression:

-         Depressed mood

-         Decreased joy or pleasure from activities you used to enjoy prior to the onset of symptoms

-         Sleep problems

-         Change in appetite

-         Decreased ability to think, concentrate or remember

-         Negative thoughts; feelings of guilt

-         Decreased energy

-         Suicidal thoughts

-         Anger or anxiety

Croft says those suffering from depression likely have 5 those for two weeks or more.

"When it drags on for more than a couple of months and it impacts your life at least moderately or severely then I think you ought to learn about what these symptoms are," Croft said.

If you recognize the symptoms, begin seeking help.

Croft says an initial visit to your family doctor can help point you in the right direction.

The good news, he says: depression is treatable if you recognize the symptoms and "actively participate in treatment."

"Treatment might involve talking therapy. It might involve medication. It might involve some nutritional supplements," Croft said. "But go to somebody that regularly treats depression."

Crofts adds that 1 out 6 adults have suffered from depression in their lifetime.