The sudden death of Robin Williams has been a shock to many. However, Mr. Williams was open about his battles with depression, alcohol and drug addiction.   Many people are not that open, and hide their struggles with depression or various addictions believing it will go away on it’s own.  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain. It’s more than just a feeling of being “down in the dumps” or “blue” for a few days. There are a variety of causes, including genetic, environmental, and/or psychological factors.

Depression can occur to anyone, at any age, and to people of any racial or ethnic group. Depression is never a “normal” part of life, no matter what your age, gender or health situation. Clinical depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting more than 20 million people in the United States. While about 70% of individuals with depression have a full remission of the disorder with effective treatment, fewer than half of those suffering from this illness seek treatment. Too many people resist treatment because they believe depression isn’t serious, that they can treat it themselves or that it is a personal weakness and not a serious medical illness. The feelings do not go away. They persist and interfere with your everyday life.

Symptoms can include:

  • Sadness

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy

  • Change in weight

  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping

  • Energy loss

  • Feelings of worthlessness

  • Thoughts of death or suicide

If you feel as though you are depressed, please contact a local counselor in your area.   Debating whether or not you should see a counselor, or have some fears about seeing a counselor? Check out our common myths about counseling, ( ) or see our frequently asked questions list (

On a more serious note, if you have thoughts of death or suicide, there is help available. If you feel you are in a crisis and are thinking about killing yourself, please call 911 or the Lifeline.  (National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)).

If you have never contacted the hotline before, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is staffed by skilled, trained counselors in your local area. When you dial 1-800-273-TALK(8255), you are calling the crisis center in the Lifeline network closest to your location. After you call, you will hear a message saying you have reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You will hear hold music while your call is being routed. When you speak to someone, you will be helped by a skilled, trained crisis worker who will listen and will share with you about mental health services in your area. Your call is confidential and free.   

(Sources: National institutes of Health and National Suicide Prevention Hotline)



Joseph Champion is a Graduate Counseling Intern within the Stepping Stones program at Step By Step Counseling, LLC.