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Health Team

Williams' death shines spotlight on depression

Posted August 12, 2014 6:12 p.m. EDT

The psychological condition of depression was thrown into the national spotlight Monday as news of comedian Robin Williams’ death spread across the globe.

Williams was battling severe depression, according to reports, and fought drug and alcohol addiction for decades.

Nearly 19 million American adults experience depression once a year. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop major depression. Nearly a third of those with depression had a co-existing substance use disorder at some point, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Sarah Lisanby, a psychiatrist at the Duke University School of Medicine who studies the treatment of psychiatric disorders, stresses the importance of treatment for depression and substance abuse.

“The good news is there is hope,” she said. “We actually do have effective treatments, so if we can get that person into treatment fast enough and get them to the effective forms of treatments fast enough, you can save a life.”