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Fight depression - search for signs


October is National Depression Education and Awareness Month. Airmen who may be suffering from depression have many resources available, such as Military OneSource, the Airmen and Family Readiness center and Military Family Life counselors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Devin Boyer)


Staff Sgt. Srun Sookmeewiriya, 313th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of reports, stares out the window unenthusiastically, exhibiting symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, when one becomes depressed during a specific time of year, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, February 16, 2017. October is National Depression Education and Awareness Month, highlighting the importance of individuals to pay attention to depressive disorders, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder - when one becomes depressed during a specific time of year (usually winter or fall) . (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)


Depression is a broad term, sometimes misused for someone who may just be naturally reacting to life’s stressors, but knowing the difference between someone who may have a depressive disorder, as opposed to someone having a bad day, makes a difference.

National Depression Education and Awareness Month knows this importance, advocating for individuals to pay attention to signs symptomatic of depressive disorders.

“Depressive disorders are some of the most common mental health issues facing adults today,” said Marnie Herbert, 21st Medical Squadron mental health technician. “Currently, depression is the number one reason Airmen reach out to the Schriever mental health clinic.”

According to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America website, the most commonly diagnosed form of depression is “Major Depressive Disorder,” a mental disorder that affects more than six percent of adults in the U.S.

Other diagnosable depressive disorders include Persistent Depressive Disorder, characterized by a persistent, sad mood present for most of the day on most days for at least two years; Seasonal Affective Disorder, when one becomes depressed during a specific time of year; Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood.

Additionally, the website noted that depressive disorders are often co-diagnosed with certain medical conditions - known as “depressive disorder due to another medical condition,” adding perspective to the scope of depression.

Despite the variations, there are consistent symptoms with each disorder, such as prolonged periods of sadness (versus just having a “bad day”), anxiety and problems sleeping. Airmen who are suffering from a diagnosable depressive disorder may also be markedly under-performing in their home or workplace, may appear to be constantly fatigued or have a loss of interest in their favorite hobbies.

Herbert shared advice on how to help an Airman who may be suffering from a form of depression.

“Start a conversation with someone if you are worried about them,” she said. “Invite them to a space where they are free to talk and tell them what is causing you to worry. Encourage them to seek help from one of the many helping agencies at Schriever.”

Depression is often associated with other serious mental health issues, including frequent suicidal thoughts.

Herbert added Airmen should follow the A.C.E. formula when approaching such situations.

Ask - Ask a wingman directly if they are thinking about hurting themselves or have thoughts of suicide.

Care - Listen to their concerns. Do not try to problem solve, just be there for them. Make sure both the inquirer and the Airman of concern is safe. Remove any means of harm to the Airman, and never leave him/her alone. If one feels unsafe or threatened, call 911 (or 567-3911 if you are on base, to be directly connected with Schriever emergency services.)

Escort - Escort a wingman to a higher level of care, such as the closest mental health clinic, emergency room, chaplain’s office or first sergeant’s office.

Looking out for Airmen, not only if they appear to be depressed, but also to check up and see how they are feeling in general, is in line with the Air Force Core Values, and helps maintain the most important resource the Air Force has - Airmen.

“There are many resources available to help Airmen who are struggling with depression,” Herbert said.

“You do not need a referral to be seen in the mental health clinic. Airmen can call 567-4619 to set up an appointment to see a mental health provider. Additional resources available include Military OneSource, 50th Space Wing Chaplains, Airmen and Family Readiness and Military Family Life counselors. If you are unsure of where to start, call any of the helping agencies at Schriever and we can assist you in finding the most appropriate agency.”

Information on Schriever helping agencies can be obtained by calling 567-HELP (4357), or go to

For additional information on Schriever helping agencies and what they do, see the infographic here.

The source for this article can be found on The Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s official website here.

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