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New "uppers" for those who are down.

A potentially fatal illness afflicts 11 million Americans each year, including an alarming number of teenagers. The symptoms of this illness can range from severe headaches to chronic fatigue to episodes of morbid sadness.

The illness is depression, and it occurs in two forms: clinical depression (also called unipolar disorder) and manic-depression (or bipolar disorder). The right kind of medication and therapy can often control these disorders; untreated, these disorders often lead to the suicides of thousands every year.

Two new brochures from the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association (NDMDA) are intended to help the millions of Americans touched by the suicidal symptoms of these diseases. Both brochures emphasize that depressive illness is not a sign of personal weakness or poor moral character.

The first brochure, Suicide and Depressive Illness, was developed by doctors and patients with firsthand experience of depression's suicidal symptoms. By helping one to develop "an action plan for life," it prepares the person with depressive illness to weather suicidal crises and gives him or her ideas on how to involve trusted friends and family members.

The companion brochure, If You Suspect Someone You Care About Is Considering Suicide, offers tactics for friends and family to help a depressed person talk about his or her illness. It also stresses the importance of open communication.

Without proper medication and therapy, one can expect depression symptoms to get worse, and suicide is an all-too-frequent outcome. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States; this statistic is especially tragic given the effectiveness of treatment for depressive illness.

"With the right kind of help, most suicides can be averted," says Dr. David Clark, director of research at the Rush Institute for Mental WellBeing in Chicago. "The NDMDA hopes these two new brochures will fill an important need for clear, frank information about suicidal episodes and how to survive them."

You can obtain both brochures and other information on depressive disorders and suicide from the NDMDA by calling its toll-free number: 1-800-826-3632.
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Title Annotation:treating depression in teenagers
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Aug 1, 1992
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