Welcome to the the Public Education section of our website. The American Psychological Association established a public education campaign in the mid 1990’s in an effort to raise public awareness about the value of psychology by addressing issues such as stigma, youth violence, and building resilience. In 2006 APA focused public education efforts on stress and the consequences of not managing stress in healthy ways. The Mind/Body Health campaign was launched emphasizing the role of lifestyle and behavior in managing stress, and the potential health complications related to stress.

The Public Education section is produced by the Alaska Psychological Association with support from the American Psychological Association. It will carry material intended to assist practitioners in supporting patients in their efforts to adopt lifestyle changes that support overall mind/body health.

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) 
First full week of October

Depression Screening Day
Thursday of Mental Illness Awareness Week

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 17 million adult Americans suffer from depression during any one-year period. Many do not even recognize that they have a condition that can be treated very effectively.

Depression occurs when feelings of extreme sadness or despair last for at least two weeks or longer and when they interfere with activities of daily living such as working or even eating and sleeping. Depressed individuals tend to feel helpless and hopeless and to blame themselves for having these feelings. Some may have thoughts of death or suicide.

People who are depressed may become overwhelmed and exhausted and stop participating in certain everyday activities altogether. They may withdraw from family and friends.

Significant transitions and major life stressors such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job can help bring about depression. Other more subtle factors that lead to a loss of identity or self-esteem may also contribute.

It is important to keep in mind that depression has a biochemical component.  Changes in the body’s chemistry influence mood and thought processes, and biological factors contribute to some cases of depression. In addition, chronic and serious illnesses such as heart disease or cancer may be accompanied by depression. For many individuals, depression signals first and foremost that certain mental and emotional aspects of life are out of balance.

The causes of depression are not always immediately apparent, so the disorder requires careful

evaluation and diagnosis by a trained mental health care professional.  Depression is highly treatable when an individual receives competent care. Psychotherapy offers people the opportunity to identify the factors that contribute to their depression and to deal effectively with the psychological, behavioral, interpersonal and situational causes.  Medications can also be very helpful for reducing the symptoms of depression.

The prospects for recovery for depressed individuals who seek appropriate professional care are very good.

If you are interested in taking an anonymous on line screening for depression go to www.helpyourselfhelpothers.org/.  To find a provider with expertise in treating Depression you can go to AKPA’s Member Referral Directory.

This material has been taken from a fact sheet on Depression prepared by The American Psychological Association Practice