I'm Daniel Saroff, Chair of the Registration and Web Teams for Strides Against Stigma, and Board Member of Families for Depression Awareness. Denise, my wife of 16 years, companion of 19 years and friend for 24 years, committed suicide in 2010 after struggling with depression since her teens. Depression destroys lives and is particularly pernicious because it destroys those very coping skills we can best use to fight it: faith in self, trust in others, belief in self worth, ability to seek help, trust that things can get better.
By the time our oldest daughter Lisa* was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 9, our lives were anything but normal. With each new day it wasn’t a matter of “if," it was a matter of “when.” When would she sink into a paralyzing depression? When would she melt down, explode, or become locked in on a seemingly arbitrary obsession?
Both of my parents were orphans. They raised four children in a parental framework riddled with insecurity. I’m the eldest and have a diagnosis of affective bipolar disorder. My siblings suffer from dyslexia and other psychological problems about which they are firmly secretive.
Recently, we’ve been collecting feedback from our Families for Depression Awareness members. Tonya from Kentucky indicated that she wanted more information on one particular question—how do you get people to come to your support group more than once?
At the young age of eight, I began to suffer with depression. I often felt helpless, hopeless and extremely sad. No one truly understood just how overwhelmed and very alone I was feeling. To make matters worse, I was subjected to both physical and mental bullying by my classmates throughout my school years.
Come one, come all! Gather around! I have a number of updates for you about Families for Depression Awareness’ Strides Against Stigma event. My name is Stanley King—Board of Directors Fellow and Co-Chair for the upcoming Strides Against Stigma walk. Since my Co-chair, Sarah Hill, told you about the frenzy of energy behind this event in early July, a lot of progress has occurred.
In the spring of 2007, I got a call from an old friend who had just taken a job as the editor of a new quarterly magazine about depression. I can’t recall precisely how the conversation went from there but it ended up with my offering to write a personal “viewpoint” column about my own experience with depression.
I was recently interviewed for an excellent Wall Street Journal article about dysthymia (mild, chronic depression). In the online version of the article, I talk about how my anger at minor irritations and hypersensitivity to criticism threatened my marriage.
In 2010 and for the second year in a row, more soldiers died by suicide than in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The second stunner is that a high percentage of those suicides are among soldiers who have not yet been deployed. What is going on?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed to cover annual screening for depression for Medicare beneficiaries in primary care settings. We enthusiastically support this effort, but also feel that it is important to screen for both major depression and bipolar disorder at the same time so that proper diagnosis and treatment can be provided.