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Doctor: Depression Is Treatable, Especially If Caught Early

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The death of Robin Williams is sparking important discussions about depression across the country.

It’s a disease that many don’t understand, but one that affects almost all of us.

According to Dr. Dan Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), suicide happens about every 13 minutes in our society.

He says depression is one of the leading causes of suicide, and that it’s a disease that can be treated if caught early.

“About 40 to 45 percent of the people make the final decision to take their life within about 10 minutes,” Reidenberg said.

He added that one doesn’t just decide to take their life.

It’s the culmination of many things over the course of a life that puts people in such a place of despair that nothing is able to help.

Catching early symptoms of depression can save lives, Reidenberg said.

“They have changes in their sleep pattern, they might sleep a lot more or they may not sleep at all, or it’s restless sleep,” he said. “Their appetite might change, so they might not be eating at all. They have no interest in normal activities.”

People struggling with depression withdraw from family and friends, their faith community, or their jobs.

But you don’t have to have to be a medical doctor to know someone is living with depression.

“You just need to be able to care and to show concern and step out and say, ‘Hey, I’m worried. Let’s go do this together, let’s look at this website together,'” Reidenberg said.

When caught early, depression can be successfully treated, he said.

“We have research that suggests that if you seek out help, if you get on medications or you go to a therapist, if we combine those two things together, we can successfully treat depression 85 to 90 percent of the time. That’s better than treating the common cold,” Reidenberg said.

The key is to identify symptoms early and not be afraid to talk about it.

Minneapolis has one of five organizations in the country dedicated to suicide prevention.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or are having suicidal thoughts, there is help available.

You can call SAVE at 1-888-511-SAVE (7283) or you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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