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Free Depression Screenings Available This Week Throughout San Diego

— Depression might be more common than you think, especially among children and the elderly. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency is urging folks to check your mood this week and get screened. 

"I was very depressed from the medication that I was taking and I didn't know it and they showed me," John Alvarado said.

Alvarado represents one in four adults in San Diego County who suffered in silence before getting help to overcome 15 years of depression. He was withdrawn and admits it took two years of treatment because he couldn't shake the stigma of having a mental disorder often ignored in minority communities.

"If you feel like you've been in your house a week too long, if you feel like you want to hurt yourself, if you feel any of those symptoms, then you should seek help," he said. 

The County Health Agency has partnered with nearly three dozen community partners this week to provide free screenings at more than 60 locations. They say one in five children are at risk of depression, and the problem is worse among the elderly.

"They become shut away, they quit eating, they react in different ways from the non-elderly and the suicide rate among the elderly is much, much higher," said Ruth Covell, who specializes in geriatrics.

About 19 million people a year are diagnosed with clinical depression. The County Health Agency wants people to know recovery is possible and help is available. Getting depression screening should be as routine as getting your blood pressure checked.

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