A lecture on depression will be hosted Wednesday at the Fairfield Senior Center in conjunction with Mental Health Month.

Judy Chessin, a Fairfield-based geropsychiatric nurse practitioner, will speak at 1 p.m. in the center, 100 Mona Terrace.

Theme of this year's Mental Health Month observances is "Get Connected," emphasizing social relationships as a way to protect and improve mental health.

Fairfield Senior Center officials say the center offers opportunities for socializing and promotes health and wellness for seniors.

Chessin works in the Department of Psychiatry at Bridgeport Hospital, and provides outpatient psychiatric care and psychiatric consultation to area nursing homes. Both her master's degree in nursing and her nurse practitioner degree were earned at Yale University School of Nursing. She also holds National Board Certification as a gerontological nurse practitioner and an adult psychiatric clinical specialist with a subspecialty in geropsychiatry.

"Depression is not a normal part of life, no matter what your age, gender or health situation," Chessin said in a statement issued by the senior center. Her talk will be informal, and handouts will be available.

Side effects of some medications can cause depression. Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin said in a statement that: "Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood. Low levels of B-12 and other B Vitamins such as B-6 and Folate may be linked to depression." Flavin advises that people consult a doctor before they take a vitamin supplement. Some people may have too little or too much of certain brain chemicals. Changes in these brain chemicals may cause or contribute to depression.

People with negative thinking patterns and low self-esteem are more likely to develop depression. Depression is more likely to occur along with certain illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's, diabetes, Alzheimer's and hormonal disorders like thyroid disease."

Depression can also result from issues such as adjusting to retirement, chronic health issues, disability, mounting medical bills, housing problems, loss of loved ones, lack of mobility, loss of independence and social isolation.

"So many seniors are from the generation that believes in being self-sufficient. Many see depression as a weakness, or as something they can conquer themselves. This is a big mistake," Nina Engstrom of the town's Department of Social Services said in the center's release. "As the baby boomers are retiring, I think they may approach things a bit differently, and hopefully will be more willing to ask for help."

The free program on depression is open to anyone over the age of 50. Register by calling 203-256-3166. Fairfield residents over the age of 65 who need a ride to the center can arrange transportation by calling 203-256-3168; a round-trip costs 50-cents.

To make a confidential phone call to discuss depression, call 203-256-3166 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and ask to speak with a social worker. The National Alliance for Mental Illness Connecticut also has a confidential phone line for information and referrals; call Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-800-215-3021.