By Psych Central News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

A new study from an organization that provides depression screenings — quick measures to help a person determine whether they may be at increased risk for depression — has found that more than half of the people who undergo a screening then seek out treatment for depression.

The researchers found that over half of participants in the 2008 National Depression Screening Day sought depression treatment within three months following their initial screening.

“The results of this study are very encouraging as they reinforce the effectiveness of anonymous, web-based screening programs in connecting individuals at risk for depression with treatment resources,” said Douglas G. Jacobs, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and founder of Screening for Mental Health, Inc.

“Early detection of mental health disorders such as depression greatly increases the chances that an individual will receive the appropriate treatment and experience a better quality of life.”

The study was conducted by Robert Aseltine, Ph.D., professor of behavioral sciences and community health and director of the Institute for Public Health Research at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

Dr. Aseltine surveyed 322 participants who completed the depression screening tool online between October and December 2008 and sought to evaluate the success of online screenings in leading individuals into treatment.

According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, nearly two thirds of people suffering from depression do not seek help, but the NDSD survey suggests that confidential online screenings, which are highly accessible and nonthreatening to users, may help to improve these statistics.

Findings from the survey include:

  • 55 percent of participants sought depression treatment within three months of screening.
  • 31 percent of these had never previously been treated for depression.
  • Of those seeking treatment, 52 percent received both counseling and medication, 28 percent received medication only, and 13 percent received counseling only.
  • Over one third of participants with a likelihood of depression said that medication had helped “a lot.”
  • 55 percent of those who initially scored “Very Likely for Depression”—the highest possible score range in the NDSD screening—were no longer in that range at followup.
  • 46 percent of those who initially scored “Likely for Depression” were in the “Unlikely for Depression” range at followup.

In recognition of National Depression Screening Day on Thursday, Oct. 8th, community organizations, primary care providers, colleges and military installations throughout the nation will offer free, anonymous mental health screenings to educate members of the public on the symptoms of depression and the appropriate course of action to take. Individuals will have the opportunity to complete a brief questionnaire, and speak with a health care professional regarding their personal situations.

“The goal of NDSD is to reach that portion of the population with depression who are not seeking help,” said Jacobs. “We have found these questionnaires and screenings to be a critical first step in educating individuals on how to seek help themselves or help loved ones who may be struggling with depression by recognizing certain behaviors.”

For more information about National Depression Screening Day, to locate a site that is holding an event on October 8th, or to take a screening online, visit You can also take Psych Central’s depression screening quiz, which gives you instant, free results.

The National Depression Screening Day is the nation’s oldest voluntary, community-based screening program for depression and related disorders, provides individuals with the opportunity to anonymously complete a validated screening questionnaire, receive educational information about depression, and obtain a recommendation and referral for further evaluation if warranted.

All Adults Should Be Routinely Screened

Separately, the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) supports the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) that primary care providers should screen all adults for depression, and further recommends that all primary care providers should have systems in place to ensure the accurate diagnosis and treatment of this condition. The earliest and best opportunities to identify depression are in the clinics of primary care providers and all primary care practices should have such systems of care in place.

According to Dr. Michael T. Compton, one of the lead authors of ACPM’s recommendation, “Depressive disorders are common in primary care settings and are associated with substantial morbidity and disability for individuals, as well as direct and indirect costs to society. Yet, depression is a highly treatable condition, and the goal of treatment is complete recovery.”

“We believe that all primary care providers should be equipped to screen for depression and to assure timely and adequate treatment, either in their own practices or through an established system of referral to mental health professionals.”

Depression is a potentially life-threatening disorder that affects approximately 14.8 million Americans 18 years of age and older in a given year. Depression also affects many people younger than age 18. The STAR*D (Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression) study found that nearly 40 percent had their first depressive episode before the age of 18.

Source: Screening for Mental Health and the American College of Preventive Medicine

logo-prn-01_PRNWASHINGTON, Oct. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is Oct. 4-10, 2009 and as part of its observance, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is calling attention to a program now airing on PBS, “Minds on the Edge: Facing Mental Illness.

“Observed annually the first full week in October, Congress established MIAW as a time to raise public awareness of serious mental illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Other diagnoses include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder and borderline personality disorder.

  • About 60 million Americans experience mental health problems in any given year. One in 17 lives with the most serious conditions. Less than a third get treatment.
  • Half of all lifetime cases begin by age 14, but 10 or more years may pass between onset of symptoms and getting help.

“The first step in combating mental illness is education,” said NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick.

  • Learn about symptoms that are warning signs.
  • Learn about different diagnoses and courses of treatment.
  • Discuss any concerns with a doctor.

Early identification is often the key to recovery. Treatment may involve combinations of medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy (“talk therapy”), peer support groups or community services. Diet, exercise, sleep and social support networks also play a role.

“As a society, we also need to strengthen the mental health care system and put an end to the stigma,” Fitzpatrick said.

Many PBS stations nationwide will begin airing Minds on the Edge, produced by Fred Friendly Seminars, Inc., during MIAW. The program explores the medical, legal, and personal dimensions of that broader challenge.


Minds on the Edge is perfect for public education,” said Fitzpatrick. “The program brings together some of the best minds in the nation for a fast-paced, lively discussion. It includes realistic scenarios of what can happen to anyone at any time.”

In the program, 12 experts — including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Nobel Prize-winning neurologist Eric Kandel and law professor Elyn Saks, who lives with schizophrenia and recently was honored with a $500,000 “genius grant” from the McArthur Foundation — are forced to “role play” and confront assumptions in order to define issues and solutions.

SOURCE:  National Alliance on Mental Illness

vision-loss-dizzy-confusion-235x300Personality changes and headaches (together) are often symptoms of conditions or diseases such as Lyme disease or depression, but could also be side effects associated with certain medications. Below is a list of diseases and conditions associated with symptoms like personality changes and headaches, as well as a list of medications related to similar side effects.

We are not medical professionals, and these may not be comprehensive lists. Please contact your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms or side effects, or similar health issues.

Personality Changes and Headaches Are Symptoms Of:

Post Concussion Syndrome: Post concussion syndrome (PCS) occurs after a concussion and does not require loss of consciousness. Symptoms may not appear for days or weeks after injury and are often intermittent. PCS symptoms can include headache, personality changes, sleep disorders, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, and mood swings.

Lead Poisoning: Lead poisoning can occur in adults and children. Symptoms include abdominal pain, personality changes, headaches, a metallic taste in the mouth, nausea, constipation, and a loss of appetite. Lead poisoning in adults can lead to complications including damage to the reproductive organs, nerve disorders, and muscle and joint pain.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Alzheimer’s slowly destroys the brain. Early signs include personality changes, repeating oneself, memory loss, losing things, and poor judgment. People with Alzheimer’s tend to have an increase in headaches.

Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. It often goes overlooked and can have elusive symptoms including personality change, headaches, pain that moves around in the body, heart palpitations, and increased sensitivity to noise.

Depression: Headaches and personality changes are common markers of clinical depression. If these two symptoms are combined with feelings of depression, fatigue, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and other signs of clinical depression there may be a link you should discuss with your doctor or counselor.

Personality Changes and Headaches Are Side Effects Associated With:

Raptiva: Raptiva is used to treat psoriasis by suppressing immune function. It has been linked to a brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). Symptoms of PML include personality changes, memory loss, headaches, weakness, and vision problems. PML is often fatal.

Accutane: Accutane (isotretinoin) is used as a last resort to treat severe nodular acne that does not respond to other treatments. Side effects of isotretinoin include headaches, personality changes, suicidal thoughts, and an extreme risk of birth defects. The brand Accutane is no longer on the market, but isotretinoin is still sold generically.

Chantix: Chantix is a smoking cessation aid. It works by blocking the pleasurable effects of smoking in the brain. Side effects include personality changes, suicidal thoughts, anger, drowsiness, headaches, skin rash, insomnia, and nausea.

Yasmin: Yasmin is a birth control pill containing drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol. Yasmin has been linked to serious, and even fatal, side effects including blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, stroke, heart attack, and gall bladder disease. Less serious side effects include headaches and personality changes.


By Ann Wang Published by Autonomic and Autocoid Pharmacology.

Everyone is pretty familiar with adrenaline and the fight-or-flight response. It’s that rush you get when the roller coaster drops for the first time, and what helps you scribble down that last proof on the midterm with two minutes to spare.

However, long-term elevation of these aptly-named stress hormones can have many negative effects. In fact, norepinephrine, a compound closely related to adrenaline, might be an underlying cause of conditions as seemingly dissimilar as glaucoma and asthma.