Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the article by Leah Eskin regarding the National Depression Screening Day [Our Town, October 21].

Ms. Eskin, in her attempt to be humorous and cynical, trivialized a problem that affects millions of Americans. She has the notion that a major depression is akin to a bad hair day. For those who have experienced serious depression, they would gladly trade the experience for worries of everyday life.

What was reassuring was that Ms. Eskin did not seem to have indications of depression on her screen. I guess it validates that she could not understand what people were talking about who have been seriously depressed. The lecture and discussion did fail, however, in helping her understand and for that we have to do better.

Finally, Ms. Eskin believed that the program was the work of the pharmaceutical industry to “move product.” Yes, a drug company donated funds to the project, which was held throughout the country, but she failed to mention that the screening was also sponsored by the American Psychiatric Association, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, AARP, the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association, and the National Mental Health Association. These groups are not celebrating “one more Hallmark holiday.” All those who staffed the screening were volunteers and, in fact, hospitals also contributed funds to the screening, which we see as a public service. As testimony to the need, we screened over 125 people, more than twice the number who participated last year. We were overwhelmed by the number of people who came looking for help.

Thank you for the opportunity to reply.

Daniel Yohanna, M.D.

Director, Outpatient Psychiatry

Stone Institute of Psychiatry

Northwestern Memorial Hospital