National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month

By Ashley Barnes


What is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month?

October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month and was created to call attention to the illness of depression on a national level, emphasizing the importance of educating the public about symptoms and effective treatment. Further, screening for mental health issues is essential in the course of effective treatment.


Depression is one of the most common mental health challenges that people experience. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, and stressful life events. It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression” (2022). 

Common symptoms of depression:

  • Depressed mood: feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness.
  • Lack of pleasure: in various activities, even those you love most.
  • Fluctuations in weight: eating more or less than usual.
  • Sleep changes: you may find yourself sleeping more or less than you normally would.
  • Slowing down: you may be observed by others to move and talk slower than usual.
  • Loss of energy: you may experience tiredness and lack of energy.
  • Guilt: this feeling may become excessive and may be accompanied by feelings of worthlessness.
  • Concentration changes: you may have trouble focusing or making decisions.
  • Thoughts of death: some people experience thoughts of suicide or related ideation. 
    • If you have any of these thoughts and have an intent to act on them, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988 for your own safety.

How to help.

First and foremost, it is crucial to be screened and evaluated by a mental health professional if you suspect that you are experiencing depression.

Psychiatrists and therapists have extensive training in the area of assessment and will be able to best determine if what you are experiencing meets the criteria for clinical depression. Mental health professionals may use validated assessment tools such as the Beck Depression Inventory to screen for depression symptoms, using the results as supplementary information in reaching an accurate diagnosis.

Antidepressant medications are prescribed by psychiatrists and have been widely studied to diminish the  symptoms that negatively impact the lives of those suffering from depression; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are some of the most widely utilized medications for the treatment of depression and are known to work by allowing more serotonin to be received by neurons in the brain.

Psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy,” has also been studied to be extremely effective in the treatment of depression, especially when paired with psychotropic medications like antidepressants. Psychotherapy gives us the opportunity to work through our thoughts and feelings in an effective and healthy manner, all while receiving support from our therapists and developing coping strategies.

Yet, some individuals find that their depression symptoms still persist, even after trying several types of antidepressants. Mental health professionals understand this circumstance as treatment-resistant depression. Ketamine is an effective option for treatment-resistant depression. Ketamine, when administered by a mental health care professional at the clinically appropriate dose, targets neurons in a way that stimulates neurotransmitter activity and promotes neural growth; this activity can have a positive effect on mood and wellbeing, negating depression symptoms.

Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP), a combination of psychotherapy and ketamine treatment, is another effective way to combat treatment-resistant depression. In KAP, a therapist guides the patient through the session, engaging the patient in sensitive and attentive psychotherapeutic work to process the experience. 


  • National Suicide Prevention Lifelinea 24/7, free and confidential support line for those in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988 or 800.273.8255
  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline – “a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.”



Harvard Health Publishing. (2022). What causes depression? Harvard Medical School. Retrieved May 23, 2022, from