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We came across this book while researching the Just Breathe site. The words from this introduction give you a flavour of the book.

Ellen’s Depression Primer ebook is an accurate introduction to what depression is and how it may be treated, but that is not what makes it special. Her book is special because it is so very personal and so very accessible. It is a personal book because it’s existence is so clearly owed to Ellen’s struggle to master her own depression, and because it is written in Ellen’s gentle and compassionate voice, serious and silly in equal measures, rather than as a purely technical piece. It is accessible because Ellen’s careful choice of words and beautiful hand-drawn illustrations (equal parts Dr. Seuss and Mary Engelbreit) renders the complex issues she covers clear enough so that school-aged children can understand and captivating and playful enough so that even jaded adults will be delighted. Some of them anyway. There is no pleasing some jaded adults.

At any rate, I’m confident that you’ll be surprised and pleased by Ellen’s work; that you’ll possibly learn something important that will help you help yourself or someone you care about, that you’ll be entertained along the way, and that you’ll want to share it with others you know, as have I. Congratulations, Ellen, and to the rest of us too, who get to read her work!

After reading Ellen’s Depression Primer have a look at her blog, “The Reign of Ellen“.

Ellen’s Depression Primer

Just Breathe sent us some flyers for their support groups. Just Breathe is a support group for women with Postnatal Depression (PND), run by mothers who have been through PND themselves. They meet fortnightly for a range of things like:

  • meeting for coffee
  • going to the park
  • trying out other activities
  • activities suggested by group members

They are offering a safe and relaxed environment where you can meet other mothers. A place top share your experiences and support each other.

As part of the group an online forum has been set up to allow members to stay in contact between meetings.

Next meetings details are available from Louise, ph. 021 295 5755, email

Richie Poulton has been shedding new light on the Nature vs Nurture debate for some time. The answer, as we might have guessed, is ‘Both’. His team’s research is based on information gained from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. The Study tracks 1037 people born in the Dunedin in 1972-73, gathering a vast amount of health, lifestyle and DNA data from its participants.

Professor Poulton is the co-author of the 2005 British Journal of Psychiatry publication “Lifetime risk of depression: Restricted to a minority or waiting for most?The publication suggests that 30% of men and 40% of women would suffer from one or more episodes of major depression during their life. Poulton is also features in a recent Listener article entitled Breastfeeding Can Raise IQ.

Genetics, its seems, won’t predict anything. It doesn’t predict IQ, incidence of violence, depression or psychosis. Genetics interact with environment to to produce particular outcomes. Environmental issues effecting our well being can’t be ignored need to be dealt with. Stressful realtionships, un-resolved family issues can create an ongoing toxic environment detrimental to our well-being.

Recent Otago University research showing that work-related stress is a cause of clinical depression and anxiety among young adults gained international attention last month.

The findings, published in the UK journal of Psychological Medicine, come out of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development Study. The researchers found that almost half of the cases of depression or generalised anxiety disorder newly diagnosed at age 32 were directly related to workplace stress and high job demands.

Paper co-author Professor Richie Poulton said more people are being exposed to stress at work, and stress rates have increased in the last 10 years. “We now know that work-related stress is associated with psychiatric health problems that increase health-care and societal costs and reduce work productivity. It’s a vicious cycle but one that can be broken with the right interventions.”

The RID trial (2006-2010) will test web-based self-help programmes for depression that have been used in Australia and Norway. The Otago Medical School trial wants to find out if these programmes will also help people in New Zealand.The programmes provide relevant information and/or the opportunity to work through a number of exercises on the internet and are designed to help people manage their depression and related problems. Participants will be randomly assigned (that is by chance) to one of three programmes and complete exercises at their own pace over four weeks.

In the fifth week, participants will complete a set of questions about their recent moods and feelings and then again at 6 monthly intervals for two years. Each assessment on these five separate occasions will take about one hour.

By participating in this trial, you may help yourself and others; if the trial shows that the web-based self-help therapy programmes work they may be made available free to all in New Zealand who need them.

Further Information

If you would like more information about the trial please see the Information Sheet for Participants or contact

RID Flyer.pdf

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the annual Depression Support Network Open Evening that was held on Thursday 08 November at the Knox Church on Bealey Ave. Approximately 80 people joined us for an our big event of the year and got to meet members of the board, the staff, students and volunteers. There was some great entertainment and very moving stories by clients, and it was great to see people get up and share the experiences in such an honest way. The evening was topped off by an excellent supper. Thanks to Louise and the team at DSN for their efforts, and also to Nathan who was the technical wizard on the night. Read the rest of this entry »

November 2007