'Walking Examples' Shed Light on Depression

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In any give year, clinical depression affects one in four American adults -- nearly 20 million people annually.

But throughout October, which is National Depression Awareness Month, many hope to bring attention to the disease. The goal is to bring those affected out the shadows and shed light on a conversation that's often difficult to discuss.

Steve Curran did his part not by talking about depression, but by walking -- halfway across the country. His "Walk to Washington" campaign for depression ended Thursday in Washington, D.C., with a rally on the National Mall.

For 50 days, Curran and a group of men walked 835 miles from St. Louis to Washington. He said depression is a disease he's battled since his teens and even now.

"There's been a couple of times I've not been able to walk. I've been in the hotel unable to get out of bed, crying in the morning because of my depression," Curran said.

Five years ago, he hit an ultimate low, descending into a place he can only describe as dark and hopeless.

"My wife and I separated. I lost my job," he recalled. "I became estranged from my family and I sought a permanent solution to my disease."

Curran took a lethal dose of tranquilizers to end his life. But he survived. After treatment and support from friends and family, he started his "Walk to Washington" campaign to change public perception about the disease.

"People think that we're all whiners and we should just get over it, and it's a really painful way to be perceived," explained Sarah Knutson, executive director of On Your Own.

Dave Ouiment joined the walk because of his sister's post-partum depression and, as a military veteran, to highlight the rising number of servicemen and women returning from war with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I hear stories about veterans coming back and they get sort of taken care of in the six months when they return, but then the symptoms don't come until nine months later, 12 months later," Ouiment said.

Attendees at Thursday's event want others to know that depression can be overcome.

"Just a little over a year ago, it would be nothing for me to sleep all weekend," said Walk to Washington participant Bob Cross. "Now here I am a year-and-a-half later. I'm like a whole new person with the right treatment."

"One of the wonderful things about depression is that it's one of the most easily treated diseases," Curran added.

And they're not just living proof, they're walking examples.

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John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.