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Help is available for depression in Citrus

Everyone gets sad sometimes, but when a person cannot get out of bed, or can't eat, or sleep or concentrate at work, that person might be suffering from clinical depression.

Experts say more than 10,000 people in Citrus County will experience clinical depression at some time in their lives. They say it is the most common mental health problem and the easiest to cure.

As part of National Mental Health Awareness Week, which lasts through Saturday, mental health counselors in Citrus County are spreading the word to mentally ill people that help is available, and they are not alone.

"It's not something that's widely understood and many people aren't comfortable with getting treatment because they're embarrassed," said Larry Lisak, program director of The Oaks at Seven Rivers Community Hospital.

Lisak said free, confidential counseling is available at The Oaks and the staff will help make financial arrangements if medical treatment is needed.

Jerry Moore, chaplain of Seven Rivers Community Hospital, said a depression support group meets at Calvary Baptist Church in Crystal River every Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. The support group meeting is free, but there is a $10 charge for a group counseling session held each Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon, he said.

Counseling also is available at the Marion-Citrus Mental Health Center. Fees are based on family size and income.

Lisak said that more than 300 people in Citrus County came to The Oaks seeking treatment for depression last year. Forty percent of them were at least 65 years old, he said.

Lisak said many of the older people he counseled thought they had enough money to be comfortable, but because of cost of living increases, and medication and insurance costs, they became severely depressed about dying poor and destitute.

About 23 percent of the people counseled by Lisak were in their 30s. Many of them had started families and lost their jobs or they were in fear of losing their jobs.

Moore said that through medication and counseling most people can be snapped out of depression in three to six months.

"You can stand in line at a grocery store and tell if a person next to you is depressed by looking in their eyes," Moore said. "Anybody can force a smile, but eyes don't lie."

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