Saturday, May 5, 2012

National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week


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By Diane Forrest, RN

Seventeen years ago this July I married my husband.  Five months later he was injured on the job.  Since that time we had been dealing with Worker's Compensation to get care for him.  Eighteen months ago my husband passed away at the age of 52, still waiting for help from Worker's compensation.  Tomorrow I will be driving to Jackson to attend a hearing at the Worker's Compensation office to hopefully put an end to the nightmare that has gone on for over a third of my life.  As I have been preparing for this day I have gone through several emotions.  I have been Angry, Depressed, and Anxious and even relieved as this horrible part of my life may finally be coming to a close.

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I am particularly anxious about having to first make the ninety mile trip by myself, and the thought of driving in that traffic is already making me nervous.  Then the thought of facing the people who could have prevented my husband's death, but didn't is also causing me a great deal of anxiety.  I have been preparing what I am going to say, since I only have a limited time to speak, and they will be timing me.  It is hard to relive all the events that have happened, and I have spent many hours crying over things that never should have been, and the things that will never be.

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This week is National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week.  Mental health is defined as the way your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors affect your life. Having good mental health helps you make better decisions and deal with daily stressors at home, at work, and in your family. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older (about 18 percent) in a given year, causing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty.” Anxiety often causes people to become so stressed that they turn to alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism. Without treatment these people continue to elevate their fears and they are unable to lead productive lives.

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AllAboutDepression.com “reports that depression affects approximately 19 million Americans, or 9.5 percent of the population in any given one-year period. At some point in their lives, 10 to 25 percent of women and 5 to 12 percent of men will likely become clinically depressed.” Whereas anxiety causes people to become frantic and stressed, depression weakens an individual’s state of mind and causes feelings of sadness.
Since 1994, the first week of May has been designated as National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week to bring awareness and create venues for public education about anxiety and depressive illnesses.  To learn more about this week, and ways you can help, click on this site: http://www.freedomfromfear.org/NationalAnxietyandDepressionAwarenessWeek.en.html

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