NEW ORLEANS — It touches the lives of nearly 18 million people in the U.S., yet many people with depression either don't ask for treatment or don't have access to it.

In Louisiana, the number of people suffering with the illness is on the rise, but there is help.

CDC numbers show Louisiana had the second biggest rate jump in depression in the nation over five years from 2014-18. And the state is near the bottom, number 40, when it comes to availability of mental health experts.

That's important because states with good mental healthcare access have significant decreases in depression. So we asked LSU Health Developmental Psychologist Dr. Anthony Speier for advice.

"If you're really feeling out of control with depression, you just can't do the things you want to do, then you can't ignore it," advised Speier, an LSUHSC Developmental Psychologist and Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in the LSU Health School of Medicine.

Speier says treatment helps the illness of depression. And he says the jump in patients may be because more people can now be diagnosed. Even with Louisiana's poor rankings, more people have insurance than in the past and there is more access to healthcare.

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"In fact, the door's open and people are walking through it," he said, noting that the total number of uninsured in Louisiana is now down to eight percent.

Here's why: Since the major hurricanes and BP oil spill, behavioral treatment doctors and Telemedicine were added at primary care clinics statewide.

"When you go in annually (for your physical check up), just say, 'You know, I'm not feeling the way I would like to feel,'" Speier said about communicating with your primary care physician.

And that is for any mental health problems, including addiction.

Here a list of treatment options for mental health, addiction and depression, even if you don't have health insurance.

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SAMHSA U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: National Help Line 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Metropolitan Human Services District (Orleans), 24 hour crisis line: 504-826-2675

JPHSA behavioral health mobile crisis line (Jefferson): 504-832-5123

LSU Addiction Psychiatry Clinic: M,W,F 1-5pm / 2003 Tulane Ave: 504-962-6106

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