"Families Living With Depression/Depression Through the Ages" is being offered in conjunction with National Depression Screening Day and Mental Health Awareness Week, and is open to anyone wanting more information on depression.
One in four people is affected by depression in their family, friends and co-workers, so the topic is relevant, said Susan Stewart of Mental Health America of Putnam County, the sponsoring agency.
The panel discussion will feature input from obstetrician Dr. Jamie Cooper, Dr. Denise Hayes, director of counseling and health services at DePauw University; Dr. Bill Nunn, director of the Hamilton Center, Mollie Shobe, educator at Cloverdale High School and author of "A Desperate Cry"; and Cindy Little, founder of Caregivers Support Group.
Questions will be posed by moderator Bobby Hopper, pastor of Fillmore Christian Church and board member of MHAPC. He is also author of the book "Win, Build and Send."
New mothers and their families are one group that Dr. Jamie Cooper hopes to reach in the forum.
"Hopefully, they won't feel so alone or so helpless, and know that there is help available, through their OB physician as well as through social services," Cooper said.
Many new mothers experience post-partum blues, which usually go away after a couple of weeks, she said. "But with post-partum depression, we want to make sure there's not something more serious going on. It can be immediate, or it can develop a week or more later."
Cooper said she will give criteria to watch for in people who are at risk for post-partum depression. With more awareness, patients will be more likely to ask their doctors for assistance rather than deal with the problem alone.
"We don't want them to think they are being a bad mother and have a lot of guilt, so if they have some awareness, it's better," Cooper said.
An estimated 10 percent of new mothers experience the blues or depression, she said.
And not only the pregnancy and birth contribute to the illness. Socio-economic factors such as not enough family support, financial burdens and changes in hormones can all affect a new mother.
"The family support system is very important. Everyone must get involved - husband and other family," Cooper said.
Cooper said treatment is a team approach, with the patient working with not only a medical doctor, but also mental health counselors and social services to make sure both mother and child stay healthy.
"Our goal is to help as many women as we can. To make sure they have a good family support system," she said.
In addition to new mothers, MHAPC's Stewart said the forum panel will talk about other age groups and how they can be affected by depression.
For instance, senior citizens can be depressed by declining health, retirement and a decline in income and loss of insurance, and the loss of a spouse or friends.
Audience members will also have an opportunity to ask questions during the forum.
MHAPC is dedicated to promoting community-wide mental health and improving the quality of life in residents impacted by mental illness through advocacy, education, collaboration, support services and prevention activities.
Listening to someone who has experienced depression can be helpful in understanding pertinent issues.