Checking out the "celebration" that is National Depression Screening Day
"There are no balloons to mark the occasion of National Depression Screening Day."
As I walk from The Atlantic's D.C. offices to the address provided to me by Dr. Monica Megivern of George Washington University, I think to myself that this could be a great first line for my first-person piece about taking part in the nationwide campaign where over 1,000 sites are offering free screening for depression.
The problem is, there are balloons. Blue and yellow ones, because although GW's real colors are blue and buff, the latter color is
hard to come by, Megivern explains. So yellow will have to do.
There's also chocolate, purchased in bulk from Costco, of the type that will later this month be given out to trick-or-treaters and which is currently being used to anchor piles of
brochures and informational packets about mood disorders. An unopened box of tissues serves the same function.
Balloons, chocolate, a crisp fall morning. As someone who stops to get evaluated points out, it's enough to skew the results.
The other problem with this whole first-person take on getting screened for depression, I quickly realize, is that even before I got an endorphin boost from a fun-sized bag of Peanut M&Ms, I wasn't likely to "test positive" for depression. As I sit on a bench to fill out the form I've been handed, the most I can honestly admit to is feeling low in energy and having difficulty making decisions "some of the time." Same goes for the questions intended to screen for mood and generalized anxiety disorders. I don't even bother to answer the questions about post-traumatic stress disorder. If anything, I can say that the survey makes me feel better about the fact that I don't seem to have anything to worry about, but even that's a stretch.