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We’re pleased to announce our next topic evening, Mad, Sad, Or Bad: Looking at Teenage Depression, run by Dr. Sue Bagshaw from the 198 Youth Health Centre. Registrations are essential. See Topic Evenings for more information.

Just published is a new book focusing on helping people deal with a loved one suffering depression. The book is Reviewed in theListener.

In a Times Article Matthew Johnstone talks about how he hid his experience of depression. At age 42 when the former Christchurch man wrote ‘I Had a Black Dog’ book he no longer kept his experience a secret, he tells us. From his book we can then better understand the inner world of his and other depression sufferers. Johnstone tells us this about the writing of the book:

“… in the space of an afternoon I wrote the book you have in your hand. It was the easiest thing I have ever done. It fell out of me like a boulder. It was like putting my lifetime’s experience on to the page.”

The Times has a clever little sideshow of I Had a Black Dog.

The Practical Philosopher by Donna Duggan

Article from MindFood.

Dr Dorothy Rowe, an Australian psychologist and author based in London, was listed in November 2007 as one of the top 100 living geniuses by global research firm Creators Synectics. Rowe is known mostly for her groundbreaking and often controversial work on depression.

Depression is Not a Physical Illness

She believes depression is not a physical illness to be treated with medication but a self-made prison you can leave, if you choose to change the way you interpret your life. Rowe also supports the growing research that shows not all people diagnosed with depression are in fact depressed – more often than not, “dispirited” would be a better term to describe how they feel.
What is depression, MindFood asked Rowe during her recent visit to Australia. “Depression is clear-cut. It’s very specific,” she says. “You’re in a prison with an invisible wall around you; no one can get in and you
can’t get out. I recently met a man who described his experience of depression as being covered by a big wet blanket he couldn’t remove.

People Able to Talk About Depression

“People who feel dispirited can be comforted. They may feel low or irritated but they can still talk about their feelings. However, talking to someone who is depressed is like talking to a brick wall. They’ve lost interest in life. Depression can come on quickly, but many people are slow to realise that’s what they’re experiencing. What usually happens is one day they notice that the strange feelings they’re having aren’t passing.”
The work of charities and government initiatives has brought depression into the open. initiatives such as Out of the Blue (New Zealand) and Beyondblue (Australia) are doing exceptional work to bring awareness to the issue of depression and to let people know help is available.
“Today people feel they’re able to talk about depression,” says Rowe. “It has lost its stigma and shame, whereas in the past women were written off as’depressives’ and men were labelled ‘alcoholics’.”

Now that there’s awareness, Rowe says we need to take another look at the treatments available. “There is an ever-increasing number of people heading to the doctor, being told they are depressed and given a prescription for an antidepressant,” she says. “Antidepressants can give a person breathing space but they offer only short-term relief. Depression tells you that there’s something wrong with the way you’re living your life, that there’s something wrong with the way you make sense of the world. But drugs don’t turn an unhappy marriage into a happy marriage; they don’t turn an unhappy childhood into a happy childhood.”
Much to Rowe’s relief, the treatment for depression is finally starting to change. Treatments are starting to focus more on ‘talking therapies’, such as psychotherapy and counselling, rather than just relying on antidepressants. Read the rest of this entry »

On Friday, April 4, the Press had an article by Christopher Lane entitled “The Blues: a failure of diagnosis?” Lane is Herman and Beulah Pearce Miller Research Professor at Northwestern University, and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship to study psychopharmacology and ethics.

In his October 2007 book272 pages. Index. Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness Lane asks the questions: What’s wrong with being shy? Just when and how did bashfulness and other ordinary human behaviors in children and adults become psychiatric disorders? What is the inside story on how the DSM got to be what it is? And is it really necessary to prescribe such powerful and potentially dangerous drugs?

Lane talks about what he calls the “highly unscientific and often arbitrary way” in which widespread revisions were made to the DSM, a publication known as the bible of psychiatry. It is consulted on a regular basis by insurance companies, courts, prisons and schools, as well as by physicians and mental health workers.

In the Press article Lane gives a summary of his investigations:

Read the rest of this entry »

June 2008