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This month the “Take Charge of Your Health Today” page focuses on depression. Vianca Masucci, health advocate at the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, and Esther L. Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, speak on this topic.

VM: Hello, Ms. Bush. I’ve been looking forward to our conversation about this month’s topic—depression. Even though people are being more open about their depression, there’s still so much stigma and misinformation surrounding the topic.

EB: You’re right about that, Vianca. There are two big misconceptions that I’d like to discuss today and challenge our readers to consider. The first misconception is the idea that it’s normal to be depressed. Sadness is normal. Depression is not. It’s an illness. Second, there’s a misconception that depression is a state of mind that people can overcome through sheer strength of mind. Strength or weakness has nothing to do with depression. It’s caused by many factors that are out of our control—like your daily environment or genetics.

VM: Thank you for tackling those common misconceptions. Depression is more than just feeling sad every now and again. It’s an illness—like diabetes or asthma— that must be treated by a mental health professional. Depression can be more than sadness too. It can make people feel anxious or irritable, cause changes in appetite or sleep, make people lose interest in hobbies or hanging out with friends, make it difficult to concentrate or even cause physical pains like head or body aches.

EB: I’d encourage anyone experiencing these symptoms to seek professional help. There are many mental health services options. People can find a care plan that works for them.

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