Screening For Depression Saves Lives

The most important test you take might just save your life. On National Depression Screening Day, October 6, a simple screening test can indicate if you could benefit from external emotional support and other treatment.

“It’s OK to not be OK,” said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health. “Health screenings provide a quick and easy way to identify early signs of illness. They provide an opportunity to reach people who may not know if what they are experiencing is depression. There is help available to guide you to a healthier life. You are not alone.”

Depression can happen at any age, and it doesn’t feel the same for everyone. Like other health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, many people may be unaware of their illness and think depression is something everyone goes through. It’s important to remember that clinical depression is more than being sad about an issue you experience. You should engage a professional if you experience five or more symptoms for longer than two weeks or your symptoms are severe enough they are impacting your day-to-day life routine.  

According to a Boston University School of Public Health study, depression in adults tripled in the early months of COVID-19 in 2020, going from 8.5 percent before the pandemic to 27.8 percent in 2020. According to that same study, the elevated rate of depression persisted into 2021 and even worsened, climbing to 32.8 percent and affecting 1 in every 3 American adults.

Because other medical conditions symptoms can mimic depression symptoms, it is important to rule out general medical causes first. Additionally, symptoms must last at least two weeks for a depression diagnosis.

Online screenings for a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, can be found at

Why Screen For Depression?

  • Clinical depression is a serious medical illness.
  • Clinical depression can lead to suicidal ideation.
  • Sometimes, people with depression mistakenly believe that the symptoms of depression are a “normal part of life.”
  • Clinical depression affects men and women of all ages, races, and socioeconomic groups.
  • Only about a third (35.3%) of those suffering from severe depression seek treatment from a mental health professional.
  • Depression can co-occur and complicate other medical conditions.
  • Screenings are often the first step in getting help.

Who Should Get Screened?

People suffering from depression often experience some of these key symptoms:

  • A persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Sleeping too little, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Help is available. If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Dial or text 988.
  • Your faith-based leader, your healthcare professional, or student health center.
  • Nebraska Family Helpline – Any question, any time. (888) 866-8660
  • Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
  • Nebraska Regional Poison Center, 1-800-222-1222