Saturday, January 31, 2009

Depression Seminar Introduction

Hi! These are the notes to the 8 week Depression Seminar sponsored by BYU Women's Services and Resources. Incidentally, if you are not depressed that's great, but chances are you will be or have been. The lifelong risk of having situational depression is 99% and situational depression can turn into something more longlasting and serious. I am very optimistic about this weekly class. I came away with the understanding that no matter what stage in life or where you are on the depression rating scale, there are tools to help you to live a happy, joyous life.

All those who came to the first session were given a Depression and Anxiety Survey to fill out and those were passed in to be rated for the next session. The information for this session was largely from the studies and findings of Neil Nedley, MD and his Book and workbook on Depression.

Facts - 1) Listening to Classical Music helps alleviate and prevent depression. 2) Being outdoors in the sunlight helps alleviate and prevent depression. 3)The average age for a major episode of depression is 25 years old. 4) Depression affects more than 20 million Americans. 5) It costs $70 billion per year in treatment costs. 6) The lifelong risk for having depression in a lifetime is 1 in 4 for females and 1 in 8 in males.
Adding to these sad facts is that most people are never actually diagnosed with depression and most people never have the opportunity to have a cure.

9 Basic Symptoms of Depression:

deep sadness, deep apathy, lack of decision, high fatigue, agitation, disturbed sleep habits, sense of worthlessness, unusual weight loss/gain, excessive guilt.

We talked a little about each symptom. We were asked if, in the past 2 weeks we felt or experienced any of these symptoms--deep sadness, a marked diminished sense in normally pleasurable activities, an increase/decrease in appetite (or if 150 lbs or less a weight gain or loss of 7 lbs and a weight increase or loss of 10 lbs. if 200 lbs or above), more than 40 minutes difference in sleep habits, more irritable or agitated than usual, physical movements slower than usual, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness--not useful to family, work, or society, excessive guilt, inability to concentrate or make sound decisions and lastly recurring thoughts of wanting to harm self or others (if the last one being the case, seek help immediately).

If you have 5 or more of these symptoms, you would be in the major depression category or the severe situational depression category. If you have 2 of the described symptoms, you are in the sub-syndromal category, which is still depression.

Depression affects almost every other aspect of health. It increases risk of heart disease, cancer, pneumonia, osteoporosis, a return to or contribution to addictive behaviors, asthma, increases anger and hostility, chronic headaches, increases stress hormones, contributes to increased rate of decline in physical abilities in old age, and many more.

Dr. Nedley states strongly that simply saying that someone has depression and then prescribing an anti-depressant is basically like an MD seeing someone with swollen feet and sending them away with a diuretic, with a diagnosis of Swollen Foot Syndrome, when actually it could be many other reasons as to why the feet are swollen. Drugs change the basic character of depression and make it more difficult to diagnose. Before anything, one must find the underlying cause of the depression.

There are 10 Basic Hits that can help contribute to depression. The first 2 out of the 10 are non-corrective--you get what you get. Fortunately, to qualify as being severely at risk for depression, one must have at least 4 of these hits and all but 2 can be corrected. These 10 hits are: 1) genetics, 2) development, 3) lifestyle, 4) circadian rhythm, 5) addictions, 6) nutrition, 7) toxins, 8)social/complicated stress or grief, 9) medical conditions, and 10) brain frontal lobe.

As we continue to attend the seminar (every Monday from 12:00 am - 2:00 pm) we will learn to identify and modify the hits for which we are most vulnerable and alleviate and cure your depression. One participant asked if the seminar would help cure anxiety as well. The answer is yes. Depression and anxiety often go together. Even if you are experiencing more anxiety than depression the seminar will help you.

If you missed the first class, you can still attend the remaining classes and not feel like you are too far behind. Also there will be notes each week on this blog. Following is the remaining schedule for this seminar:

February 2: Lifestyle Treatments for Depression.

February 9: Nutrition: Better Food, Better Mood.

February 16: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Change the Way You Think, Change the Way you Feel.

February is President’s Day. BYU will be closed. We can either skip a week or meet Tuesday, February 17 from 12 – 2. We will discuss this and take a vote.

February 23: Positive Lifestyle Choices: Overcoming Addictions and other Harmful Habits.

March 2: Coping with Stress Naturally.

March 9: Overcoming Loss and Life Disappointments.

March 16: Enhancing Brain Frontal Lobe Functioning.


Sarai said...

Helen- I'm soooooo very thankful that you are posting these. I saw the poster for the seminar and really felt/wanted to go but I have a class during those hours. So thank you soooo much!
-Sarai Stewart

helena said...

Sarai, you're so welcome. I will put the notes in every week.