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I came across an interesting article today, reviewing a book called ‘Listening to Depression’. The premise of the book is to not treat Depression as a problem in your life, but as reaction to problems in your life. The article uses the analogy of a warning light coming on when a plane drifts off course, to let the pilot know to make some changes to get back on course. So the experience of  depression is our brain’s way of letting us know that something is not right.

The analogy of a warning light is good, as it reminds us what to focus on. Sometimes we focus so much on the symptoms of depression, and forget about dealing with the underlying issues. It can be worthwhile to take a step back and stop focusing on the ‘warning light’, and look at what is setting the ‘warning light’ off in the first place.

The article has an exercise you can go through to try and explore what has set off your ‘warning light’, which I’ve copied here so you can try it:

Read the rest of this entry »

Postpartum Depression is a form of depression that affects parents after the birth of their children. It is speculated that the stress of childbirth, lifestyle changes associated with having children, and for women, hormonal changes can precipitate a depressive episode in parents. Although men don’t undergo childbirth, it can still be a stressful time. I recently came across two stories on CNN, and The Daily Mail, telling stories about Male Postpartum depression.

It’s interesting to note that male postpartum depression can often occurwhen the partner also has postpartum depression. If your partner is depressed, not only does this mean having to spend more time caring for your new born, but also supporting your partner. The lesson here is that if you’re supporting someone through a difficult time, be aware that you’re vulnerable yourself, so make sure you’re getting the support you need, otherwise you might find yourself getting depressed.

Another lesson to take away from this is to be prepared. If you’ve got a history of depression, be aware of things which can put you under stress, such as child birth, and be aware of the signs you see when you get depressed. If you start to see signs that you aren’t coping, do something about it.

If you’re looking at doing something about depression (whether or not you’re a parent) have a look at some of the links on the side bar, or contact us. If you’re interested in reading more about Postpartum Depression, there’s a lengthy wikipedia article on it.

A recent study (cited here) questions whether drug trials assessing antidepressants relate to the people who actually use them. Such trials often involve individuals with more severe depression, who don’t have any other comorbidities. The problem is this isn’t often who the drugs end up getting prescribed for:

After assessing 2,855 patients treated with citalopram, a commonly prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor for mood disorders, study authors concluded that fewer than one in four, or 22.2 percent, of the patients met the usual criteria for inclusion in phase III antidepressant trials.

So hopefully this research will lead to more trials being done on a more representative sample, so people can be more informed about how effective different drugs are for a more general population. The lesson for Doctors – and anyone looking up research – is to be aware of who are in the drug trials, and whether this is generalizable to other people. Because antidepressants are effective for some people, but it’s important to know who those people are.

Continuing on from the previous post, we look at some research performed by the positive psychology movement. One of their main areas of research is how to make yourself happier. One study (which is summarized in the latter half of this document) looked at the effectiveness of internet based interventions on happiness.

People did a number of activities online, and their happiness and depression was measured over the next six months. For a lot of the exercises, happiness went up (and depression went down) immediately after the activities, but then returned to normal over the next few months. However, for two activities, there was an increase every each month for six months.

The two that caused an increase in happiness over the six months were: ‘using signature strengths’, and ‘three good things’. These were as follows:

  • Three good things in life. Each night, people would write down three things that went well in the day, and write down an explanation for why this had happened.
  • Using signature strengths in a new way. People took an online test to identify character strengths.  They received information about their top five strengths, and were asked to use one of these strengths in a new way each day for a week. (The online test can be found here – free registration required)

(Note, the increase in happiness was greater for people who continued these activities for longer than the week.)

So there you have it. Two ways that have been scientifically shown to improve happiness. So here’s a challenge for you. Why not give it a shot? Spend a short time each night for a week doing one of the two activities, and chances are you’ll be happier by the end of the week. What have you got to lose?

A good New Zealand website dedicated to youth depression is The Low Down. It’s got a wide range of content, ranging from facts about depression, a self-test, and music from various artists. One cool feature is the chat rooms, where people can talk about what’s going on for them. Another feature is a number of videos from a range of people, celebrities, musicians, and other sharers talking about their experiences – If you look closely, you might be able to spot some of the DSN team sharing.

If you’re interested in depression, think you might be experiencing it, or know someone who might be experiencing it, I’d recommend taking a look at the low down, it’s really worth it.

Another of our inititatives in Movember is to run a topic evening on Men’s Depression on Monday the 17th of Movember. See Topic Evenings for more details, to register, or for more details, contact us.

This month is movember, which focuses on men’s health issues, particularly focusing on prostate cancer, and depression. In the spirit of movember, depression support network will be running a Men’s Group on Thursday evenings. If you are interested in participating, please contact us ASAP

This thursday is our yearly open evening, at 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm. Come along for:

  • An entertaining night!
  • To meet the staff
  • To hear our guest speakers
  • To hear group speakers and presentations
Contact us to RSVP

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. One of the themes for this week is ‘It’s in your hands’: make good mental health a priority in your life. In accordance with this theme, I’ve put together some tips for making mental health a priority in your life.

  • Sort out things that cause you worry and stress – The less that you have to stress about, the better. If things are stressing you, this will be a strain on your mental health.
    • Money – Consider budgeting, remembering there are services available that can help.
    • Work Demands – Consider talking to your boss about your mental health. Consider taking time off, and having time for yourself. Don’t take on more than you are able.
    • School/University Demands – Make sure you are aware of what is required, and when, don’t leave things for the last minute. Consider reducing your course load.
  • Become aware of what things cause you to feel down, and what things you can do to make yourself feel good again. Consider making a Wellness Action Recovery Plan 
  • See your Doctor – While Medication will not solve all problems, it may play an important role in your recovery.
  • Talk to someone – Whether it’s a therapist, a counsellor, or even a trusted friend, find someone who you feel comfortable talking with. It’s important to have an outlet, to express your feelings. Counselling often is available inexpensively.
  • Make your life healthier – having a healthy lifestyle does wonders for your mental health.
    • Exercise – get involved in some form of exerise that you enjoy. It could be anything, organised sports, walking, running, dancing, anything that you enjoy and gets you moving. For more ideas, see Push Play.
    • Healthy eating – make sure you get a balanced diet, particularly making sure you are eating plenty of protein, and avoiding high energy foods. For more healthy eating information, see ‘Food for Health‘ (a pamphlet put out by the ministry of health).
  • Deal with negativity. negative thoughts & low self esteem
  • Reach out to others, friends and family, meet new people and reconnect with old friends. 
  • Reconnect spiritually – This means different things for different people, for some it may mean going to church, for others it might mean spending time with nature.
  • Take the time to do things you like – Make sure you’re spending some time doing things you want to do, and getting some enjoyment. If you don’t have anything, maybe look at picking up an extra hobby?

You may find some of these may work for you. They may not, but the important thing is to find what works for you, and do it. Your mental health is yours, so make sure you own it.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week

October 6-12 is Mental Health Awareness Week. This year the theme for the week is ‘Make Your Mark For Mental Health’, and is about looking what positive impact New Zealanders can have on Mental Health. There are three key messages: 

  • It’s in your hands: make good mental health a priority in your life
  • Put your hand up: Be an advocate for positive change and social inclusion
  • Reach out: make connections and increase understanding

Now is a good time to think about doing some activities for the week. There’s an online toolkit with some ideas.

December 2019
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