Local center offers help fighting depression

8:34 PM, Jul 7, 2010   |    comments
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Here are some shocking statistics; nearly 80 percent of those affected by depression do not receive treatment. Women experience depression at roughly twice the rate of men. Depression is the leading cause of workplace absenteeism in the United States, costing employers more than $51 billion every year. Colorado has the sixth highest suicide rate in the nation and more cases of teen depression per capita than any other state in the nation.

All of those facts come from the University of Colorado Denver Depression Center. Not quite two years ago, the center was opened as a result of the generous support of George Wiegers of Vail. The Depression Center provides mental health treatment as well as community outreach programs. The center is also involved in research programs which include pharmacotherapy trials and comparative effectiveness studies.

Dr. Neil Weiner is the director of clinical services for The Depression Center.

"We hope to do for depression what cancer centers did for the treatment of cancer in the 1970s," Weiner said.

Through treatment and education the program directors want to reduce the stigma associated with mental health illness, provide early recognition of depression and reduce the suicide rate in schools and communities in our state.

Weiner was able to help Graham Powers who suffers with depression and bipolar illness. Powers was a senior executive with a telecom company when he went into a deep depression. He says he wasn't sleeping, became irrational and overbearing at work. He even contemplated suicide.

Powers was dismissed from his job and on the verge of losing everything. He sought the help of his physician who referred him to Weiner. Together they were able to try a few types of therapy, and eventually find what worked for Graham.

"Anytime I feel different or have a question on my meds I can call Dr. Weiner or e-mail him and within an hour, generally an hour, he'll get back to me. He really cares," Graham said.

Both men say trust and respect in this patient-physician relationship is the key to success. Graham's wife played a critical role in his recovery as well, attending nearly every therapy session. Today, with the love and support of his wife and children, Graham has started his own consulting business. Now, he openly talks about his battle with depression with the hope of educating others.

The Depression Center is one 16 centers across the country dedicated to the treatment of mental illness.

"We've come a long way over the last 10 years, but still have a long way to go," Weiner said. "Mental illness is such a difficult thing to understand. People can look normal on the exterior, but internally their minds can be devastated by the effects of severe mental illness."

To learn more go to http://www.coloradodepressioncenter.org

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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