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Depression affects thousands in Oklahoma

LAWTON, Okla._The death of comedic icon Robin Williams has shocked the world. The actor passed away in his home Monday of an apparent suicide, thrusting mental illness into the spotlight.

It's a disease that affects thousands right here at home, and now local therapists are urging those who feel they may be struggling with depression to get help immediately.

Staggering numbers prove that it’s especially true here in Oklahoma. Officials say 22 percent of all Oklahomans will experience some type of mental illness within any given year. That puts Oklahoma second in the nation for mental illness cases. They say all of those cases are one hundred percent preventable.

Depression is a disease that cuts through the mind, straight down to the very spirit of a person.

"It affects how they can act or react...the motivation, lack of motivation," explained Assistant Executive Director Brenda Ototivo.

Many people may not see it the symptoms of depression because it can hide behind the most happiest of facades, something the world is learning firsthand.

"Some people might look at that and say, ‘Well he's got all the money he could ever want, recognition, very talented man.’ But that doesn't show what's going on inside of the mind. It's a real thing that you can't just wipe away," said Ototivo.

Ototivo said there are a few red flags that could signal trouble in the water.

"Change in behavior, lack of participating in work itself or family functions, friend functions. Sometimes they don't tend to their personal appearance as much as they used to maybe," said Ototivo.

Those battling depression who seek treatment have the best chances of not just beating the disease, but surviving it as well.

"The help is out there. Making that initial phone call or even having a friend to call, we've had that happen, it's very scary walking through the door and just taking that first step. And we have seen that firsthand, to where it does work," said Ototivo.

Officials say there's a 90 percent recovery rate if that treatment is requested. If you or anyone you know is battling severe depression or is contemplating suicide, you're urged to call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Taliaferro Community Health Center treats around 1,900 patients in southwest Oklahoma every year. For more information on their services, you can contact them at 580-248-5780.


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