DENVER -- The death of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams places an important spotlight on depression.
It is an issue that is often taboo in society, which keeps many people from getting the help they need, despite the fact that it is an illness that affects more than 121 million people worldwide.
Becca Emme is one Coloradoan who has struggled with depression for more than thirty years, considered suicide, and then survived it all. She wants to inspire others with depression to seek treatment and reach out to family and friends so they too can survive.
The emergency medical worker says her depression developed shortly after her first child was born then grew worse over time.
She explains, “You don't feel good. You don't feel like you want to do anything. You're just overwhelmed.”
Making things worse, a recent fall left her with a brain injury and unable to walk on her own.
Becca says she hit her lowest point when she tried to take her own life. She says, "I poured the whole bottle of Xanax into my hand and I had this overwhelming urge to take them, to me it's not really a conscious choice.”
Becca explains that a person who is depressed feels like they are “in a dark hole” and can see family and friends at the top around the rim, they hear their positive encouragement, but just can’t internalize it.
Research links depression with an increased level of cortisol, the stress hormone. The overload can have an effect on how the brain processes emotion.
The feelings of hopelessness and desperation can increase the severity of serious health conditions as well as the desire to commit suicide. Becca says she takes medications that are able to stabilize her mood swings and adds, “I’ll take it for the rest of my life and it helps incredibly.”
Experts say it's important to recognize the signs of depression, like a change in an adult or child's personality and a lack of interest in things they once loved.
Dale Emme of the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program says, “The biggest thing to do is to be able to watch out for each other if someone is acting differently than they normally do it's time to say 'what can I do to help.'”
Becca says it is easy to give up hope but reaching out for help can mean the difference between life and death. "When you're in that place it's hard to reach out and ask for help and it's especially difficult to ask your loved ones because you don't want to transfer that pain to them (but) it's imperative that you talk to someone.”
If you feel that you are suicidal and need to reach out to someone right away call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).