Hartford Healthcare doctor says the number of Americans experiencing depression is up

National polls show most Americans believe we are in a national mental health crisis.
Clinical psychologist Valeria Martinez-Kaigi with Hartford Healthcare says understanding depression is the first step to treatment. So, she has a questionnaire she asks many of her new patients.
"Are you sad, are you hopeless, are you down, is your mood down? The other question is do you feel a loss of pleasure, loss of interest, loss of motivation?" said Dr Kaigi.
Kaigi says the number of Americans experiencing depression is up considerably, from 8.4% before the pandemic to over 32% last year because of two major factors.
"One is limited social support, which makes sense, right that isolation - and financial stress, which also makes sense," said Kaigi.
The numbers are even up for young people.
Kaigi says you don't have to be sad to be depressed.
It's National Depression screening day. An important time to check in where you are at and important steps you can make to change your thought patterns and behaviors.
"Exercise is key. That contributes to not only behavioral activation part, but it really affects the neurobiology of the brain to help increase that mood," said Kaigi.
Kaigi says if your symptoms are getting worse, it's a good idea to contact a professional who may prescribe medication.
Doctors say to be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.