On Monday, actor and comedian Robin Williams died after a long battle with depression, as well as addiction and early Parkinsons. His death has inspired tributes and memorials around the world, including a round of “You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me” sung by the cast and audience of Broadway’s Aladdin. Perhaps most importantly, it has sparked a long-overdue conversation about depression, suicide, and mental health in general.
Depression is a common but serious illness that interferes with daily life. It’s more than feeling a little sad or blue. It can take many forms. A person can experience one or mores episode of major depression where the symptoms interrupt your ability to work, sleep, eat, and spend time on things you enjoy. Persistent depressive disorder includes depressive episodes that last for at least 2 years. Other forms of depression include psychotic depression (including disturbing false beliefs or breaks with reality), post-partum depression following childbirth, seasonal affective disorder. Bipolar disorder, once called manic depression, is less common and is characterized by cycling mood changes from energized highs to extreme lows.
If you are experiencing depression of any kind, or any other mental health condition, find someone to talk to about it. Depression is treatable and it can get better. It is important to work with your health professional, as well as a trained therapist, to identify the right medications or therapies for you. The first step is making connection to a behavioral health professional. This treatment services locator from SAMHSA will provide you with local behavioral health resources.