On Thursday, Oct. 11, colleges, senior centers, hospitals and community health facilities around Connecticut will provide free anonymous screenings for depression to people of all ages, insured or uninsured.

The free screenings provide resources to help detect and treat depression. The public can call 2-1-1 toll-free, 24 hours a day (multilingual staff and TDD access available) or visit HealthyMindsCT.org.

It's important to learn the signs and symptoms of depression, such as changes in appetite, loss of energy, prolonged worry, anger, sorrow or frustration, or loss of interest in a person's usual activities. Too often, misconceptions and stigma associated with mental illness prevent people from seeking treatment, according to a release. Although treatment is effective and people do recover, most people wait years before seeking help, the release stated.

Depression affects nearly 121 million people worldwide and is the second leading contributor to shorter lifespan and poor health for individuals 15 to 44, according to the Geneva-based WHO's World Mental Health Survey Initiative. A study by the World Health Organization found that one in five people in the United States reported having an extended period of depression within their lifetime. The report also found that women were twice as likely to experience depression, and the strongest link to depression was separation or divorce from a partner.

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With medication, talk therapy and support from family, friends and the community, people recover from depression and other mental illness and live productive, healthy lives. Recovery rates for mental illnesses are higher than rates for many other physical illnesses, including heart disease. According to the National Advisory Mental Health Council, 65 to 80 percent of those with major depression and 80 percent of persons with bipolar disorder will recover.

National Depression Screening Day in Connecticut is sponsored by the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board, Inc., Purdue Pharma, Connecticut Health Foundation, United Way, and the state Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services. Screening locations include Optimus Health Care, Greenwich Hospital, Mitchell College, Sacred Heart University, Manchester Community College, Connecticut College, Fairfield University, Norwalk Community College, Three Rivers Community College, Housatonic Community College, University of Bridgeport, University of Connecticut-Stamford, St. Vincent's Behavioral Health Services, Norwalk Senior Center, Darien Senior Center, Fairfield Senior Center, Eastside Senior Center, Baldwin Senior Center and Greenwich Department of Social Services.