Struggle with depression inspires Las Vegas woman to create Crush Run

After Cassi Davis’ second child was born, depression and anxiety took hold of her.

Davis, 31, had a normal, healthy pregnancy and childbirth without complications. But soon she started experiencing panic attacks and having “dark days,” as she refers to them.

She went to her doctor, who diagnosed her with depression and anxiety. She manages both conditions with antidepressants and support from friends and family.

But her experience led her to want to help others. She found that talking about her anxiety and depression helped her cope with the symptoms, so she began to look for places to volunteer.

What she found was a lack of resources for those living with mood disorders.

Davis decided to create such a resource: the Crush Run, a 5k fun run and walk to raise awareness for depression and anxiety. The inaugural event is set for 8 a.m. Sept. 22 at Kellogg Zaher Sports Complex. All of the net proceeds will be donated to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

“A lot of times people with depression and anxiety don’t feel like they’re being heard,” Davis said. “They reach out and they talk to somebody and they get responses as far as ‘Oh, you’re just in a bad mood, you’ll get past it; it’s going to be OK.’ ”

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mood disorders in the United States, affecting about 40 million adults, or 18.1 percent of the population, each year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association. Women are twice as likely as men to be affected by conditions such as general anxiety or panic disorders, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The societal stigma around mood disorders has eased somewhat in the past 20 years, said Beth Salcedo, the association’s board president, “but stigma is still a huge problem.”

“I still talk about it every day with patients,” Salcedo said. A practicing psychiatrist and medical director for the Ross Center for Anxiety & Related Disorders in Washington, D.C., Salcedo has seen patients stop treatment entirely because of stigma or from fear of what others might think.

That’s why community events like Davis’ can help others reach out, Salcedo said.

“From my experience, people who attend these events and meet (people) who have been through what they’ve been through has made a huge difference,” Salcedo said.

Davis, a contract writer, tutor and artist living in Summerlin, said it’s important to build support and awareness around mental health conditions before they escalate.

“It’s better to know that there’s someone out there supporting you on your normal days,” Davis said. “I want to get to the source before the suicide actually happens. Let’s backtrack a little bit and get to where it started.”

For Davis, it was a few “dark days” after her first child, Kora, 3, was born. She could tell that her mood was different, but she wasn’t sure if it was just “baby blues.”

“It wasn’t quite to the extreme that it got to after my second was born,” Davis said. “The anxiety happened a lot.”

She started worrying that her children had chronic diseases and panicking about getting involved in a car accident. The depression got worse, too. Dark days starting coming up to four times a week.

During those days, she would fantasize about getting hurt. She’d look at a staircase and imagine falling down it — just to end up in the hospital.

“And once you start realizing that you want to be hurt to have that break, then you’re like, ‘OK, that’s not right,’ ” Davis said. Medication has helped, as well as support from her family and husband.

“You just got to do what you need to do to make it happen. … You’ve just got to figure it out.”

Contact Madelyn Reese at 702-383-0497 or Follow @MadelynGReese on Twitter.

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