Actor's openness about depression stirs glowing Comic-Con tribute

Story highlights

  • Fans of TV star Jared Padalecki held a candlelight vigil in support of him and his charity
  • Padalecki admitted suffering from depression earlier this year

(CNN)Those who suffer from clinical depression often feel they're shrouded in darkness. At the recent San Diego Comic-Con, fans of the hit series "Supernatural" shined a light.

They surprised star Jared Padalecki (also known for "Gilmore Girls") with a candlelight vigil in support of him and his charity "Always Keep Fighting."
Back in March, Padalecki revealed that he suffered from depression -- including a debilitating panic attack that took place once on the set -- and came up with the "Always Keep Fighting" slogan as something he would always tell himself to battle through depression. He announced that he would begin selling shirts with the slogan to "help people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide."
    Then in May, the star tweeted a cry for help, pleading with fans to write him words of love and support while using the #Alwayskeepfighting hashtag, as he canceled appearances at conventions, citing exhaustion.
    He was back in action at San Diego Comic-Con, but didn't expect the show of support he would get at the "Supernatural" panel.
    "It took everything in my power not to cry," he told E! Online. "It's stuff that I have dealt with and I'm still dealing with, so it means so much to me. I hope the fans feel support from me the way I feel support from them."
    Everyone in the crowd received a candle with a note: "Everyone is given a candle that burns just for them. When your flame flickers and you fear it will go out, know not even the strongest wind lasts forever; and there are other lights to guide you even in the Darkness...And when your candle burns bright, you can ignite the hearts of others and hope will spread like wildfire...Always Keep Fighting, and you'll never fight alone."

    A thank you. To anybody and everybody that had ANY part whatsoever in the Always Keep Fighting Hall H tea light event....

    Posted by Jared Padalecki on Sunday, July 12, 2015
    According to AllAboutDepression.com, 19 million Americans are affected with depression, or 9.5% of the population, in any one-year period. And it's been more a topic of conversation over the past year with the death of Robin Williams, and with other actors coming forward, like Nicholas Brendon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer").
    But as awareness grows, are more people depressed than ever? Jean M. Twenge, a professor from San Diego State University, looked into this question last year.
    "Analyzing data from 6.9 million adolescents and adults from all over the country, Twenge found that Americans now report more psychosomatic symptoms of depression, such as trouble sleeping and trouble concentrating, than their counterparts in the 1980s," the university announced.
    "Previous studies found that more people have been treated for depression in recent years, but that could be due to more awareness and less stigma," said Twenge. "This study shows an increase in symptoms most people don't even know are connected to depression, which suggests adolescents and adults really are suffering more."
    So as depression becomes more prevalent, a corresponding acceptance and support from larger pop culture -- including at the biggest pop culture event of the year, Comic-Con -- perhaps will urge more people to seek help and support.