Articles & Trainings

Three clinicians from Health Affiliates Maine (HAM) have responded to a request from the American Red Cross of Maine in providing relief efforts within areas of West Virginia. We are deeply grateful for the volunteer efforts of Echo Dixon-LCSW, Karen Hardy-LCPC and Shannon Morris-LCPC who are providing mental health support to individuals who have been impacted by devastating floods.

The partnership between HAM and the Red Cross of Maine illustrates our focus, passion and mission to ‘Share a Journey to Wellness’.  

We share our expertise. We share our resources. We share our hearts. 

Andrea Krebs, Executive Director of Health Affiliates Maine confirmed three mental health clinicians have deployed to West Virginia and a few others are waiting their call to deploy as well.  “It is truly amazing how professionals in our field come together in times of crisis, and willingly give of their expertise as volunteers.” says Krebs. 

Jan Frost, Disaster Mental Health Manager with American Red Cross of Maine, reached out to Luanne Rhoades, Outpatient Therapy Program Director with Health Affiliates Maine for volunteers. “The support of Health Affiliates has made a great deal of difference on this operation,” Frost said. “Your efforts got qualified mental health providers to an area of great need. Your ongoing support and valued partnership are much appreciated.”

Preliminary reports indicate upwards of 2,000 homes could have been damaged or destroyed.  Many areas are still not accessible and the number of affected homes is likely to change. Since the flooding began, there have been more than 1,900 overnight stays in emergency shelters. The Red Cross, in coordination partner agencies, has served more than 113,800 meals and snacks, and distributed more than 103,600 relief supplies including cleaning supplies and comfort items. This is a difficult time for many families unexpectedly forced from their homes – and Red Cross disaster mental health workers and their partners are helping people cope.

HOW TO HELP: This is a large relief response and the Red Cross needs the public’s support.  Those who would like to help people affected by disasters like flooding and countless other crises can make a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief.  People can donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.  These donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

Have you ever had that haunting feeling that you’ve become your mother, or that you sound just like dad?  That’s because you probably studied them as you were growing up.  You studied their mannerisms, their behavior, the way they spoke and what they did.  You may find you even use the same favorite saying, “Don’t do what I do, do what I say.” 

Some of those old sayings are not good rules for parenting.

It is important to remember that your children are studying you all the time, even when you’re relaxed and having fun on holidays like the 4th of July.  Cold drinks and summer fun go together.  Alcohol is often in that mix as family and friends gather for a good time. 

As parents, we can often be challenged as we try to model the behavior we wish to see in our children. As a parent you are role-model-number-one; the big cheese, and what your child longs to be.  This is why it is especially important for you to be mindful of your own behavior.   

If you want to make sure your kids learn to have fun without alcohol, then, show them that you can too!

If you want your kids to learn NOT to drink and drive, by all means DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!

Not even when you think you are fine and able to drive. 

Some parents wonder if letting their underage kids drink with them is safer.  Step back and think again! Here is the message you are sending:  drinking is okay and breaking the law is okay (legal drinking age in Maine is 21).  You are putting yourself in legal jeopardy by providing alcohol to your child or their friends   NEVER provide alcohol to someone else’s child!  

Here’s 5 tips for modeling healthy behavior:    

  1. Be moderate in your consumption of alcohol.  You might choose to drink, but not choose to be drunk.   
  2. Don’t approve of adults who are drinking too much, by laughing at their behaviors. 
  3. Talk to your kids about healthy social behaviors you want to see in them — regularly and often, including you feelings about underage drinking.
  4. Don’t drink and drive.
  5. Don’t provide alcohol to anyone underage.

This article was brought to you by Health Affiliates Maine.  Call 1-877-888-4304 for help with parenting, substance use and mental health problems, and other issues which effect families.

Author:  Luanne Rhoades LCPC, LADC, CCS – Outpatient Therapy Director

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

Play Ball!  Join us for the Inaugural #StrikeOuttheStigma Co-Ed Softball Tournament.

We are pleased to accounce Health Affiliates Maine is partnering with NAMI Mainein support of raising behavioral health awareness in our community.   Let’s #StrikeOuttheStigma together!

This day will be filled with some friendly team competition and family fun! Bring your family and friends and cheer the softball teams. 

100% of all proceeds from the sale of food, beverage, baked goods and raffles will be presented to NAMI Maine. 

 Support your community.  Support #StrikeOuttheStigma

Join Us!

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

Hi again! I am back with another blog. I was re-reading my first one “Shame: Managing Stormy Days” the other day and thought it was, “to my surprise” not bad.

I say this not with an ego. I say it as “An Adult Child Of An Alcoholic” who can still slip back to that spot of low self-esteem. Not for long and for sure not as often BUT the feelings don’t change. In that spot, I was quite nervous about my first writings here.

The thought or the fear was…..

“Will I write something worth reading? A thought not new to me. I shared those same feelings with my wife Linda when she first asked me to write our book “Weathering Shame”. Remember when I talked in that first blog about the Lack Of Awareness Around How I Grew Up? I also noted that Growing awareness during the beginning of my “Journey Toward Wellness” helped build successes and to make better choices. All true!

However the biggest change along the way is a growing confidence in myself and that has helped me feel more positive about ME!

I got there by being very aware of both my Strengths & Weaknesses and accepting both. 

 

  • Re-reading my first blog has me feeling that I made several good points that I am really proud of.
  • I have heard and taken in positive feedback from you the public and the folks at “Health Affiliates Maine”.
  • A new habit, replacing the old habit of discounting kind words. That was around how I felt about myself.
  • I am  growing and learning of being able to acknowledge small successes.
  • Being less concerned about what other people think of me including not going to a negative place with it.

The most important change happening is a True Feeling of Self-Worth!

Not being in such a rush to finish tasks. Being a better listener and offering support not solutions and the most important realization..“DON’T BE INVESTED IN THE OUTCOME!” If you have read our book “Weathering Shame” you know how much of a problem I had around these issues. Has it gone away completely? Of course not! But I do feel a strong shift in feelings and my behavior.

So at this point in my journey, I do believe that what I am saying around the issues of Shame and stigma is helping those who hear or read my words to maybe begin sharing their own stories and struggles with someone they trust.

In closing, MY THANKS to those who have thanked me for my role in Health affiliates Maine TV and Radio campaign. The recovery stories being shared by others are amazing and powerful.

ACCEPTANCE IS ONE IMPORTANT STEP ON THE JOURNEY TOWARDS WELLNESS

AuthorKevin Mannix, Weather Forecaster,WCSH 6, NEWS CENTERS and co-author of “Weathering Shame”

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

If you’ve read my blog on What Is Mental Health Anyway? then you will know that everyone has mental health concerns at time’s throughout their life.  Truly this includes every person, every family, relatives, everyone in school or college, at work and in their home. Everyone! 

Mental Health issues could be due to:

  • a life change
  • losing a job, a home, or not having enough money
  • a death in the family
  • a pet dying
  • being abused
  • having some kind of trauma – including physical injury
  • being diagnosed with a physical illness or mental illness
  • genetics
  • or a host of other reasons.

Why is there a stigma attached to mental health issues and seeking mental health treatment? 

What we learned and incorporated into our “social thinking” from history.

Historical accounts and treatment of mental health, show that people labeled as mentally disturbed were locked up, treated poorly and many even died as a result.

How we were brought up and what our parents or relatives thoughts were on mental health.

Did your family demonstrate understanding, saying “she/he is going through a rough time in their life” or did they use negative labels like “crazy”, “dangerous”, someone to stay away from?

What the community, church or others felt and acted when mental health issues were discussed.

Did people talk about how they were getting help and hoped they would be back soon or was there a silent disapproval, with a “don’t talk about it or that person” implied?

How television, movies and other media portray those with mental illness.

Do the actors portray people with mental health as strong and working through “tough times” or experiencing a “bump in life’s rocky road”? Or does the script show them as sad, someone to feel pity for, angry and abusive, or showing no emotion and doing terrible or horrifying things to others?

Do talk-shows discuss and help those that they interview or do they play “media circus”, putting people with mental health difficulties on stage to entertain the viewers?

The notoriety that is focused on for those, that while a small part of society, do horrific acts.

For instance, school shootings, the “made-famous” psychopaths (ie. Hannibal Lector), mothers who kill their children. Reality is, the vast majority of people with mental health issues are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population.

How do we end the Stigma?  How do we change our thoughts about mental illness?

  • Be aware and share positive and helpful stories that counter the negative. Luckily, social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others) has allowed people who are struggling, recovered, or have gotten support to share their information with others. 
  • National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) advocates for changes to be made that assist rather that stigmatize mental health. Get more information or get involved.  
  • Be a friend. If you know of someone who is experiencing a mental health concern, check in with them, say “hi”, compliment them on something they said or how they look. If possible, be sociable, invite that person out, share a meal, or have a conversation with them.
  • Counter negative comments that you hear. Substitute words or phrases like “we all go through tough times now and then”, “anyone would have a difficult time if …”, “he/she is still a wonderful…” or “I hope I am that strong if ever I get into a similar situation.”
  • Consider writing an editorial with the local paper urging others to be aware of their neighbors needs and help each other during tough times.
  • Overcome your fears and anxieties, know when you need additional help, and make an appointment with a mental health therapist.

Here at Health Affiliates Maine, we truly are concerned for your welfare and the welfare of your family.  We are knowledgeable, highly trained, and really do know a lot about how to help you and your loved ones cope with your emotions and to get the skills to help yourself!

Everyone needs help now and then…Don’t wait. Call today for services. 

 

 

Author: Cynthia Booker-Bingler, LCSW, Health Affiliates Maine

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

“The oak fought the wind and was broken,
the willow bent when it must and survived.” 

― Robert JordanThe Fires of Heaven

 

Resilience can be described as the process of returning to normal daily functioning or the ability to adapt after being faced with stress, adversity, trauma or tragedy.   Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have.  Resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.  There is a, however, a road to resilience that most likely involves much emotional pain and sadness.

Stressful life events can have a substantial impact on brain function and structure. 

Just  hours before my 22nd birthday and being 5 months pregnant, my mother’s heart surgeon presents himself to say “your mother will not make it through her open heart surgery”.  My heart fell to the floor as no doctor had ever predicted this outcome.   My mother was just 44 years old.  “My mother will never see my unborn child”.  This was the thought that remained with me and caused so much emotional pain at that moment and for years to come. It is sometimes insurmountable obstacles that unleash the very best of ourselves.

Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on. 

They are able to rise from the ashes and become stronger than ever.

My first child was born in April of the next year.  My son was born with a very rare condition called CHARGE Syndrome.  CHARGE is a recognizable pattern of birth defects.  My son is deaf, legally blind, intellectually impaired with many sensory deficits.  My dedication to him spans 27 years and has given me a lifetime of resiliency stories.

Throughout my life, I often have had people say to me “how do you do it?”­­­ 

“What makes you get up in the morning?”  So here I present my own thoughts after pondering that very same question, “why do I continue to feel fulfilled and happy when my life has been interwoven with tragedy many times?”

My husband and I went on to have two healthy daughters and also adopted a deaf child, a son from Hangzhou, China in the year 2000.   In 2002, my husband, father to my four children, died in a tragic car accident.  The pain of losing a husband and father, so young, just 42 years old, was another traumatic event to test all of us in resilience.  I remember my youngest daughter, Emily, much more stoic than her older sister, “mommy, why don’t I cry like Charlotte, I miss daddy but I can’t cry like her”.  It is important to remember we all grieve and reveal emotion differently.  I was able to explain this to her in a very simple way, “your emotions are very much like your dads, he liked to work through his problems in his mind and by doing activities that kept him healthy.  Charlotte, she is just like your mom, we cry and show our emotions very easily, this is just the way we were put together on the inside”.

Individual  characteristics…

…such as optimism – along with behaviors;  active coping, and cognitive reappraisal, can build on one’s ability to weather storms of unpredictability.

Optimism is the expectation for good outcomes and has been consistently associated with the employment of active coping strategies, subjective well-being, physical health and larger and more fulfilling social networks and connections. Relationships that provide care and support, create love and trust, and offer encouragement, both within and outside the family.  Optimists report less hopelessness and helplessness and are less likely to use avoidance as a coping mechanism when under duress.

When raising my children, there were many times that tears represented sadness.  What I remember, is how those tears were short lived.  I always invited others to understand what I was going through and share in my pain.  Due to this vulnerability, I opened myself up to many people who could provide comfort and a message of hope and optimism that could get me through the distressing moment.

When my youngest son was 16, we had endured years of his emotional turmoil.  This unrest – possibly a result of being deaf, abandoned at such a young age and a minority.  I remember a talk from a psychiatrist in an emergency room, he was firm with me “You do not give up on him, he needs you to believe in him now more than ever”.  He went on to say that this is the time that many parents throw in the towel with kids who are behaviorally disruptive.  This doctor was telling me “you’re not done yet” he gave me the confidence to fight the good fight for many more years to come.  He wanted me to stand firmly in optimism.

Active coping using behavioral or psychological techniques utilized to reduce or overcome stress has been linked to resilience in the individual.  Strategies that help us actively process the physical and emotional stress that is part of life.  Talking with friends and family, writing in a journal, shooting hoops, engaging in yoga, joining an art class, these are all considered active coping skills.  Active coping involves thinking, even if it is not about the problem at hand.  Active coping helps one refresh the mind.

I have always been active to maintain my physical health.  I have always tried to reach out and help others in many different capacities, serving on boards, volunteering,  joining committees, taking up legislative issues. It has been important to me to be a good mother, daughter, and friend.  It has helped for me to always be aware that I am more than a person who has much adversity in her life, I am also a person who is blessed with much love in her life.

Cognitive reappraisal is also strongly associated with resilience.  This is the ability to monitor and assess negative thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.  Changing the way one may view events or situations, finding the silver lining in the dark cloud.

I remember friends asking how I reacted when I knew my child was profoundly deaf.  It was such a strange question to me as I was just happy that he was alive and the idea that he would not hear to this day has never been a source of sorrow for me.  It was my ability to see beyond and not become stuck in a labeled disability.  I was able to look at the larger context, how will he communicate with us, researching and educating my own self to the possibilities.

Building resilience does not always come easy. 

Having your own personal experience with hardship is what builds your strength and confidence to conquer what comes your way.  The process of resiliency can also be helped along by good families, schools, communities and social policies that make resilience more likely to occur.  It is important to remember that everyone can develop resilience and the ability to “bounce back” from hardship.

My oldest son is now 27 years old and lives independently with in-home supports.  All of my adult children are now facing their own challenges and building their own strength toward resilience.  My family offers each other encouragement and support as we discover life’s unexpectancies.

“Fall down seven times… get up eight”  
-The happiness institute

 

Author: Terri Thompson, LCPC

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

(Auburn, Maine) Health Affiliates Maine a statewide substance abuse and mental health agency announces the recent hiring of Kim Morrison, LMSW-CC.  Morrison joins Health Affiliates Maine’s growing team of affiliate counselors as a Licensed Master Social Worker.  She will be providing therapy for young adults, adults, couples and the immigrant-refugee population in both the Lewiston-Auburn and Augusta areas. 

Morrison uses a variety of therapeutic tools such as motivational interviewing, mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and solution focused therapy.  Using these techniques she is able to treat a variety of mental health issues including, anxiety, depression, trauma, post-traumatic stress, grief/loss, self-esteem, life transitions, stress management, obsessive compulsive disorder and much more.

Morrison explains “My goal is to ensure individuals feel safe and comfortable so that we are able to identify and work on life goals.  I work together with individuals so they can develop skills and other strategies that can help in coping with challenging situations”.

A graduate of University of New England and Salem State University, Morrison’s past experience includes working with adults in residential and outpatient settings. Morrison currently accepts Mainecare insurance. 

To make a referral, an appointment or for more information call 1-877-888-4304 or visit www.healthaffiliatesmaine.com/referral

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

This fact could not have been made clearer than in a conversation with Theresa Russell*, who agreed to talk about how heroin has touched her life.

Theresa began by handing over a list of six people’s names, their ages, and the dates of their overdoses and deaths.  She reports she is very angry right now, as the most recent death was one of her very best friends from high school.  He was 32 years old and overdosed on Nov. 1, 2015.

She explains that her anger and disbelief stem from the very first overdose in 2002.  This was the father of a high school friend.  Theresa, along with a close circle of friends, attended the funeral in 2002, and in her mind, this was the moment she knew she would never pick up opiates and heroin.  She believed her peers all felt the same.  Sadly, this was not the case.

Until society finds a way to manage the heroin issue, friends and family will continue to ask themselves, “What more could I have done?” or “Why didn’t I see that?”

The list of six people who died of drug overdoses are all connected, in some way.  Her very best female friend from high school “Jane”, has struggled with opiate addiction.  Jane’s husband was the third one on the list to die in the fall 2008.  Jane also attended the funeral in 2002.  Theresa is puzzled that after attending a funeral of someone who overdosed and died of drugs, why anyone would ever choose to use drugs?  She also wonders what makes a person walk into a room and decide that they will jab a needle into their body to get high.  What is going through their minds the first time they try heroin?  It is no secret that after the first time, people can get hooked.  

Theresa had another friend that died in the spring of 2008 from a drug overdose, who was also at the funeral in 2002…they were all there to support their friend whose father lied in the casket. 

Theresa is angry and sad about what this drug is doing to our society.  She is also angry that her dearest friend from middle school and high school years have succumbed to the lure of heavy drugs. Theresa tried to intervene early on in her friend’s addiction, but the family and her friend were in denial.  Eventually, the family saw that Theresa was correct, and that their daughter needed help. Yet this friend still struggles today with relapses. 

When we hear about people dying from drug overdoses, it is important to also remember the friends and family left suffering.  Trying to make sense of death by heroin and of the addiction itself, is often terribly difficult.  Until society finds a way to manage the heroin issue, friends and family will continue to ask themselves, “What more could I have done?” or “Why didn’t I see that?”

Like Theresa’s loved ones, addiction can take hold of anyone and everyone. Addiction does not discriminate; whether wealthy, successful, or have a family, it can disrupt the lives of anyone. If you have someone in your life who is suffering from addiction, overdose is a real possibility. Here are some steps for dealing with a loved one you believe has overdosed:

Action Plan  **

  1. Call for help. The sooner emergency medical help arrives, the sooner professional treatment for the overdose can begin.
  2. Provide first aid. Becoming familiar with first aid techniques, such as CPR, can be helpful should the situation arise.
  3. Collect important information from the scene. Are there empty pill bottles or drug paraphernalia lying around? Take them with you to the hospital or provide them to first responders so the medical staff will know exactly what they are dealing with. This will help them render the proper treatment more quickly – a process that can mean the difference between life and death in some cases.
  4. Don’t judge. An overdose crisis is not the time to make judgments or accusations concerning your loved one’s addiction. While you should attempt to gain information concerning what drugs were taken and in what quantity, save your emotional commentary until after the crisis has passed.
  5. Be cautious and aware. Some drugs, especially in larger doses that can cause an overdose, can cause violence and anger. Some drugs can increase the user’s strength and tolerance for pain so drastically that they become almost super-human. Do not place yourself in physical danger to treat an overdose.

Author:  Lorrie Roberts, LADC, CCS

* Names have been changed for confidentiality reasons.
**Action plan courtesy of Alta Mira Recovery Programs

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

Hi, everybody! I am attempting my first blog for Health Affiliates Maine. They say it simply. ”Everyone needs help now and then” and in my experience, that has certainly been true.  What I like is that they offer help statewide – just as I forecast the weather statewide, when I fill in at NEWS CENTER. In this space, from time to time, I will share some thoughts and feelings around my journey of recovery.

I talk a lot about reaching out for help. In the beginning, I was not even sure that I needed any help. I did not have any awareness that, how I grew up – living with an alcoholic Dad and a depressed Mom – affected so much of my life.

Two things I remember when I first reached out for help.

  • One was the shame I felt around the thinking that I should be able to figure this out on my own. To me, it felt like a sign of weakness. I have come to see now that asking for help is really a sign of strength.
  • Two was the feeling I was betraying the family. My Dad and Mom’s problems were not talked about inside the home and FOR SURE not outside the home! It was a secret and I felt a lot of guilt about letting “the cat out of the bag”.

Today, I am aware that everyone owns their own bag of stuff.

In order for me to start feeling better, I had to start speaking my truth. The truth about how I WAS affected by what I grew up with around me. Not to blame but to accept this truth and figure out what I own in order to start a true recovery for me.  This was a lesson that was tough for me for a long time but over the last 5 years my wife Linda has shown me, by example, and I am learning for myself, how to weave this into my life. It takes practice to change old habits but I keep at it and I do see change. No shame in that!!

In the beginning, I was not even sure that I needed any help.

That said, shame can creep in so effortlessly.

It came up for me at a ‘Weathering Shame” book talk recently – this feeling of shame – for wanting to come to a talk. Being seen in the crowd can feel shameful because it might carry the stigma of a problem – personal or in a family. This shows the work we still need to do around making it more comfortable and acceptable to reach out for help.

This is why I am so happy and proud to be a part of the Health Affiliates Maine TV and Radio public service campaign around shame and stigma, where more stories of recovery are being shared.  

Talking and sharing is an important part of the journey towards Mental Wellness.

 

Author: Kevin Mannix, Weather Forecaster,WCSH 6, NEWS CENTERS and co-author of “Weathering Shame”

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

Depression has been called having “the blues”, “feeling down”, “sad” or “in the dumps” but that doesn’t begin to cover what depression is and does. Depression affects the body, mind and spirit.  It can be devastating and life changing. It affects not only the person’s life, but can impact significant others, family members, employment and even the community as well.  It can last for weeks, months or years without treatment and it can end in death by suicide.

Depression is a serious illness.

What causes depression?

Depression has its roots in chemical changes in the brain. There are many factors that can combine to cause depression.  The person’s temperament and personality, early grief and losses, trauma, stressful life events, the change in seasons or any time the body’s internal clock is out-of-sync. Medical problems such as a thyroid imbalance heart attack survivors, immune diseases, cancer, and nutritional deficiencies can also play a part. The presence of persistent pain, women associated with having their premenstrual cycles and some medications and their side effects are all contributing factors. Substance abuse issues and associated withdrawal symptoms can also result in depression.

Genetics plays a part. If someone on either side of the family was depressed there is a better chance that this would be passed on to the next generation.  Depression also affects the brain and is negatively affected by stress.  The more stress and longer the stress occurs, the more the brain and the body is affected.

Are there different types of depression? If so, what are they? 

There are a number of different types of depression. The most common is Major Depressive Disorder which can be mild, moderate, or severe, in partial or full remission.  Other types can include 

  • Persistent Depressive Disorder, known as Dsythymia which occurs for at least two years.
  • Disruptive Mood Dsyregulation Disorder includes temper outbursts with irritability or anger that occur daily and is seen in children between 6-18 years old.
  • Premenstrual Dsyphoric Disorder is associated with the menstrual cycle, starting a week before and ending in the week afterwards. This brings mood swings, crying, irritability and anger, depressive symptoms, tension and anxiety.
  • Substance or Medication Induced Depression associated with taking a substance or medication.
  • Depressive Disorder due to another medical condition. 
  • Specified Depressive Disorder, which is when full criteria cannot be met but most symptoms are present.
  • Unspecified Depressive Disorder. This diagnosis may be made when there is not sufficient information or time to make a specific diagnosis.

In addition, depression can be a symptom of other diagnoses such as Bipolar Disorder, anxiety disorders with depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and sadness, which is not a diagnosis, but a natural part of our existence.

Can depression be prevented? 

Depression is complex. It can’t be prevented for everyone yet, but it can be treated. That is why one pill won’t work the same way for everyone, and why medication usually takes weeks before a change in symptoms is noticed.  For some people taking their medication as prescribed, being proactive when participating in therapy and actively making changes in their lifestyles can greatly reduce symptoms over long periods of time. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has proven to be effective in changing thoughts and feelings that are associated with depression and in helping to identify, and make lifestyle changes that reduce depressive symptoms.

How can we help someone who may be struggling?

The first part is to become aware that there has been a change.  The change includes having a depressed mood, a loss of interest or pleasure and feelings of hopelessness or despair.  Remember, depression can be sneaky.  It can start by a person feeling “off”, more sad than usual, or having low energy, and may be perceived as the onset of a flu or cold when no other flu or cold symptoms appear.

Be aware of changes in routine, difficulty with starting tasks, staying in bed longer, or increased feelings of not caring about anyone or anything.  Family members or friends who notice these symptoms should talk to the person about it and suggest that they get help. 

Above all, don’t ignore the symptoms.  Be patient, encouraging, understanding and support the person who is depressed. Talk to them and, more importantly, listen to them. Encourage them to be more active, don’t push too hard, but continue trying.

Are there resources to seek help?

If there are ever any suicidal thoughts or feelings, the person should immediately call their therapist, doctor, or the crisis hotline 1-888-568-1112.  Above all, if the person is a danger to themselves or others, hospitalization may be necessary.

If the person is not suicidal, a doctor’s appointment can help to determine if there is any physical cause for the depression. Depending on the severity, a psychiatrist or doctor may prescribe antidepressants. This can help reduce depressive symptoms and may be given in combination or alone. If there are any side effects noted, encourage the person to call their doctor and go to their appointments. 

Seeing a therapist or clinician, whether on medications or not, has been proven to be effective in helping reduce symptoms of depression. There are a number of psychotherapies treatments that can help.

Research has shown that getting treatment sooner can relieve symptoms quicker and reduce the length of time of treatment. In other words, try to encourage the person to seek therapy.  For the person that cannot get out of the home there are also telehealth services, so getting therapy is easier than ever. The best thing to do to treat symptoms of depression is to get help as soon as possible.

 

Author: Cynthia Booker-Bingler, LCSW, Health Affiliates Maine

Sign Up To Receive Our Latest Blog Posts!

Learn more tips on living well and understanding mental illness. Help to end the stigma, and hear inspiring stories of recovery. Sign up here!

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Alert - The health and safety of our affiliates, staff, case managers, and clients is our top priority. Our COVID-19 Updates page provides current information about how we are working together to help keep our communities safe. Learn More

+