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October 8, 2001

Free depression screenings offered

By Eric Rangus


As part of National Depression Screening Day, Oct. 11, free depression screenings will be offered by the staff of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Clinical Trials Program and The Fuqua Center for Late-Life Depression from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The screenings will take place on the fourth floor of Wesley Woods Health Center, at 1841 Clifton Road, which is where both entities are located. No appointment is necessary, and the screenings are anonymous and can be completed in about 30 minutes.

The Fuqua Center has performed these screenings since its inception in 1999, and the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Clinical Trials Program, has been participating for even longer, but this is the first time the two have worked in tandem. The Emory Well House also is offering screenings by appointment, and will be holding four depression awareness InfoStops throughout the month.

“We’re really excited because this gives us a chance to hit the entire age range from 18 on up,” said Jeff Kelsey, assistant professor of psychology and behavioral sciences. Kelsey will be among the half-dozen or so health care professionals performing screenings.

“The goal is to provide a free, easy, accessible screening,” he said. “If people believe that depression may be an issue for them, this gives them a chance to come in and have the opportunity to speak with a trained mental health professional.”

National Depression Screening Day is held each year during Mental Illness Awareness Week, which is designed to call attention to the illnesses of depression and manic depression, to educate the public about symptoms and treatments, to offer people the opportunity to be screened for the disorders, and to connect those in need of treatment to mental health care providers.

Visitors will asked to complete a questionnaire that asks whether they have experienced certain depression-like symptoms over the previous two weeks. Symptoms include poor appetite, hopelessness, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, thoughts of suicide and fatigue.

Should the respondent show signs of depression, a health care professional would review treatment options and set up an appropriate referral. On this initial meeting, visitors do not have to give their names—only their initials—and they will be assigned an ID number.

Kelsey said as many as 70 people have turned out for previous screenings, and between two-thirds and 75 percent have received additional treatment for depression or a related ailment.
“We see this as a public service,” Kelsey said. “We can give something back to the community and offer our expertise so that people can take advantage.”

While both younger and older people can suffer from depression, the Fuqua Center specializes in treating older adults.

Bill McDonald, associate professor of psychiatry, said depression in older adults differs from that in younger people in three ways: physical ailments such as arthritis often accompany it; there are cognitive problems that may resemble dementia; and older people are often more anxious or nervous.

“But if you look at those symptoms, none would lead a person to go to a doctor for depression,” McDonald said. “The larger challenge is getting them to admit that they are depressed, because that is generally not part of an older person’s vocabulary,” said Eve Byrd, Fuqua’s associate director.
Because of this aversion to seeking treatment, older adults who believe they may be suffering from depression are encouraged to visit Fuqua’s website at It contains an online questionnaire similar to the one that will be distributed on Thursday at Wesley Woods.
“On that website, you can do a confidential depression screening, and it can actually lead you to where you could seek treatment in your area,” Byrd said.

For more information on National Depression Screening Day, call 404-778-8968 or visit


Back to Emory Report October 8, 2001