Don’t wait to get help for depression

Vernon has many resources for people suffering from depression, from professionals to groups offering support from those who have been there

With spring comes the renewal of life and new beginnings. Sunshine lifts the spirits and mood to embrace the energy it brings. After the dull, dark days of January and February, spring brings happiness to everyone, or it should. For some people who do not feel this way, it brings worry and sickness. If you do not happen to feel this way, and your mood does not lift then maybe this is a sign that you must do something. It may mean that you are depressed.

For whatever reason, you feel the same as you did when it was dark and dreary, nothing feels different. If this continues then seek help. Depression is so easily treated. Give it two weeks, and if nothing changes the first step is to go to your family doctor who can refer you to other services within the community. The doctor will probably prescribe medication, and this will help with the physical side of the illness. Depression is a medical illness and must be treated. The medication is only part of the recovery process.

The symptoms of depression include changes in appetite and weight; disturbed sleep; the inability to find pleasure; low energy and motivation; feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and helplessness, anxiety, irritability, and suicidal thoughts. If you have these symptoms, please seek help. It will get better.

Fortunately, here in Vernon we have a network of services which are there for you. After the doctor you might try talking to someone from Mental Health (250-549-5737), or from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), 250-542-3114. There is the Emergency Response Team at the PIN Crisis Line (1-888-353-2273). For family members or friends there is the Mental Illness Family Support Centre (250-260-3233) in the People Place.

However, there are services run by people who have lived and coped with depression and other mental illnesses that can also help and due to experiential knowledge can understand where you are coming from. You will find acceptance and a non-judgmental place to be. There is no better help, than from people who have been through what you are going through now. There are two such groups in Vernon, the Peer Support Services out of the CMHA (250-542-6155); and the Mood Disorders Support Group (250-558-6900/250-542-6155).

The Peer Support office is at 3100-28th Ave., in the CMHA building, next to the Georgette Shop. They are open week days from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., everyone is welcome. Peer Support runs a Hospital Visitation Program and a community based Peer Outreach Program, which pairs trained volunteers up with people who are isolating, newly diagnosed, or new to town. Or you can come into the office and talk to the volunteers there. Everyone who volunteers in the office are people who cope with mental illnesses.

The Mood Disorders Support Group meets every Friday at 2:30 p.m. for an hour, and meets at the Peer Support office. It is an informal drop-in group where people discuss issues concerned with recovery and topics associated with their illnesses. Anyone with any diagnosis can attend. Family members are welcome as well. There is no charge to attend, although donations are welcomed.

One in three Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, and one in five will have a chronic mental illness. Do not let the stigma stop you from getting better. There is help out there for you!