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This week’s sudden and sad news of Robin Williams’s death has brought the issue of depression to our attention. It is ironic that a man who brought us so much laughter was struck down by such a serious condition.

Depression affects millions of people throughout the world. It has no boundaries as far as race, socioeconomic status, education, or gender. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 9 percent of Americans say that they are depressed at least occasionally, and 3.4 percent suffer from major depression. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, ahead of homicide, which is the 15th. Depression can strike anyone at any time, even children and adolescents.

Clinical depression is not merely feeling blue or having a bad day. It is a disorder that is marked by an inability to carry out daily functions. It is time for our society to recognize depression as a significant health issue.

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Untreated depression can lead to a range of other problems. But treatment can help. Early diagnosis and intervention can make a difference. There are many local resources to assist with the treatment of depression. Helping a friend, acquaintance, co-worker, or loved one secure appropriate resources can change the quality of the person's life.

Harry Shulman
President and CEO
South Shore Mental Health
Quincy