'Makeover' star battling depression

June 22, 2009 2:25:07 PM PDT
Some 35 million Americans deal with depression at some point in their lives. With treatment, about half can overcome depression and never have to deal with it again. Eyewitness News has the story of ABC's 'Extreme Makeover Home Edition' designer Paige Hemmis. Just weeks ago, she revealed that she has depression.

"I was in denial. I was helping so many families deal with horribly depressing things and I thought who am I to say I'm depressed," said Hemmis.

Yet Hemmis, who had spent six seasons on 'Makeover' helping families in crisis, was dealing with major depression.

"My body's shutting down. I can't do this. I can't get out of bed. I can't go on," said Hemmis.

She gained 25 pounds and couldn't sleep. She was surprised when her doctor diagnosed her as having depression.

"At first I was like what, no put on a happy face. But part of me in the back of my mind was like there's a name for this and I'm not alone," said Hemmis.

Dr. John Burruss of the Baylor College of Medicine said, "There's no question there will be a positive impact when someone like Paige gives her history to talk about what she's been through."

Burruss and Hemmis are in town for Blueprint for Hope, a program to encourage people with depression to seek medical help.

"Ignoring depression is like ignoring any other medical condition. As it gets worse, it gets harder to treat and harder to bring you back out of it," said Burruss.

Hemmis went to say, "My doctor said you might want to take this medication. At first I didn't want to and I said OK if this is my road to recovery I need to follow the doctor's plan. I tried a few different ones, I tried exercising, didn't want to do that at all."

Three to four months later, she was feeling better. However, Hemmis said she works every day to stay on her depression treatment plan.

"I'm sure a lot of people see me and say she's not depressed, or it might be a shock to find out I'm dealing with depression and it might inspire someone else to get help," said Hemmis.

Hemmis has designed her own blueprint to beat depression, in hopes it will help others. You can read more about the organization at Blueprint for Hope.

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Christi Myers is ABC13's Healthcheck reporter

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