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      Local psychologists and support services speak out on depression help

      Local psychologist and Family Support Service is speaking out on depression, and how to treat it before itâ??s too late.

      On Monday, Hollywood actor and comedian Robin Williams died from asphyxia due to hanging. Williams spoke often about his ongoing struggle with depression.

      Dr. Michael Pelfrey, an Amarillo psychologist, said depression is the most common mental illness in the United States.

      â??It affects 17 to 20 million people a year,â?? Pelfrey said.

      Pelfrey said depression is not something a person has to live with their entire life if they are treated correctly. He said in the past couple of years, the amount of people getting anti-depressant medication has tripled, and about 40 percent of people taking anti-depressants donâ??t respond to the medication.

      â??With severe depression, itâ??s likely you may need both psychotherapy and also medication. Two methods are more effective than either one alone,â?? Pelfrey said.

      Pelfrey said sadness isnâ??t the only symptom of depression. Other symptoms include stress, anxiety, sleep and weight loss or gain, anger, and loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable.

      He said people may often try to deal with their problems with other risky behaviors.

      â??Some things people to do help avoid dealing with issues are alcohol, drugs, overspending, overworking,â?? Pelfrey said.

      Pelfrey advises that a healthy diet, a good sleeping regime, and an active lifestyle in the treatment of depression along with medication and psychotherapy.

      He also said depression is something that can affect anyone.

      â??A lot of depression can be seen in early adulthood and also in later years,â?? Pelfrey said.

      Family Support Services said if a person or someone they know may have depression, they are allowed to go to the center immediately for help.

      â??We have a staff of counselors during the week, so there will be a counselor here. They can come in unexpected and unannounced and have a counselor to talk to,â?? said Amarillo Family Support Serviceâ??s Kathy Tortoreo.

      She says they also have a 24 hour crisis hotline for anyone that just needs to talk. That number is 806-374-5433. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline's number is 1-800-273-8255, and is also available 24 hours a day.