What do Buzz Aldrin, Ellen DeGeneres, Bob Dylan, Alicia Keys, and Robin Williams have in common? Beyond the fact that they’re each icons in their own right, they have all battled depression.

Depression is common.

Depression is an extremely common disease. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that one in six persons older than 65 suffer from depression and that depression in older patients occurs in 25% of those with other physical illnesses.

Over the past several years, the stigmas associated with mental illnesses such as depression have slowly begun to evaporate. If you’re 65 years of age or older, you were probably raised in a society that tended to treat those suffering from depression as though they were invisible, or just needed to ‘cheer up.’ Today, it’s understood that depression is in fact an illness, and like any other illness, needs to be treated.

Get the help you need.

Do you suspect that you may suffer from depression? If so, you’re not alone. If you often feel angry or sad, have lost interest in activities you used to love, or are having a hard time dealing with stress, you may be suffering from a form of depression. If so, don’t try to overcome it on your own. Help is available.

Depression screenings are free under Medicare.

In fact, under the current Medicare system, you are entitled to one free depression screening per year. That’s right; an annual depression screening is covered as a form of preventive maintenance under Medicare Part B. If you are enrolled in a Medicare plan, you’re eligible. It’s that simple. You can see a doctor and get recommendations for treatment or referrals to a specialist at no cost.

If you or someone you love suffers from depression, please pick up the phone and call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak to someone who understands and can get you the help you may need.

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