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February 2005

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Welcome to 2005 at depressioNet!
A very warm depressioNet Welcome to 2005 at depressioNet.
This year depressioNet will celebrate our 5th Birthday - where did the time go?! In 2004 our Board put in a lot of work on developing our strategy towards becoming financially self sustaining and the focus on 2005 will be the continuation of our core services and the implementation of this strategy to ensure that depressioNet is here for all in the future. When you read Kathy & Alun's story in this newsletter, you will understand why so many are so committed to the depressioNet philosophy and integrity of 'people like us'… and their story is only one of the many. Together we CAN and are making a difference in the lives of many thousands of people who live with depression. If you would like to know more about how you can be an active part of depressioNet, email admin@depressioNet.com.au We hope you enjoy our February Newsletter!

AWB Limited - New depressioNet 'Partner In Health & Wellbeing'
depressioNet is very pleased to Welcome a new corporate 'Partner in Health' in AWB Limited. AWB is the old Australian Wheat Board which is now a private company and the partnership with them has progressed very quickly and smoothly as AWB understand the impact depression can have on our lives and are keen to work with depressioNet to help reduce the impact of depression on the lives of all Australians.

A big positive of this new partnership is that AWB have a strong rural presence with over 400 AWB and Landmark outlets throughout rural Australia. Hopefully get some juicy things happening soon!

dNetWorking - dNet Gremlins!
This gremlin is the fellow that is assigned responsibility for all the myriad of unexplained challenges we have with our computers and the Internet and bears the brunt of our frustrations with a remarkable fortitude! Unfortunately he doesn't pay enough attention or do much to help us, but the ability to vent our frustrations on him at depressioNet has saved many thousands of computers from being hurled out of windows

In recognition of his many years of valuable service as a verbal punching bag, and to help raise vital funds for depressioNet, one of our dNetters has produced a fabulous range of depressioNet merchandise (mugs, T-shirts etc)featuring the dNet Gremlin. Designed by Philbo this extensive range provides great gifts that raise awareness of depression and depressioNet in a fun and practical way. Philbo is generously donating 50% of the sales to depressioNet so in purchasing this fun range, you will also be providing valuable financial support to depressioNet. Check out the Gremlin range at http://www.cafepress.com/dnet_gremlin

All the depressioNet gear with our logo is still available at: http://www.depressionet.com.au/promo.html

Ramsay NSW Hospitals Update!
The Evesham Clinic in NSW has recently changed its name from the to the Northside Cremorne Clinic. The Clinic still offers specialised services in the areas of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders, war-related PTSD and elderly assessment, as well as providing expert care for people with general psychiatric disorders. You can read more about the Clinic on depressioNet and they will be updating their pages in the New Year so keep an eye out! http://www.depressionet.com.au/resources/hospitals/ncremorne_clinic.php

Help In Your Area - More GPs
The "Help In Your Area" (HIYA) email service and section of depressioNet.com.au has long been an important aspects of depressioNet. As people who live with depression ourselves, the Team here know only too well how difficult it can be to find the professional treatment and support services that exist 'out there'.

For most of us our GP is our first port of call, and while many other healthcare professionals have registered over the past 4 years with depressioNet's HIYA service, to date we have only been providing information on GPs via email. However with the help of some wonderful GPs the HIYA team are working to include more GPs who have an interest in helping people with depression. After only a week we have already 5 GPs who have a strong interest in helping people living with depression (3 in Vic, 1 in Qld and 1 in NSW) in our HIYA section at http://www.depressionet.com.au/resources.html . If you have a wonderful healthcare professional or service you feel will be of help to others with depression, please either let us know by sending an email to hiya@depressioNet.com.au or mention depressioNet's HIYA service to them and ask them to contact us.

Therapeutic holidays
Complete Psychological Solutions runs two therapeutic holidays from the Opal Cove Resort in Coffs Harbour. The two programs titled the Pampered Partners and the Indulgent individual are designed for couples and individuals respectively who are currently experiencing high levels of stress and conflict in their relationships and lives. Complete Psychological Solutions are donating $100 from each booking which mentions depressioNet to us. Find out more at http://www.completepsych.com/therapeutic_holidays

Research projects - Helping them to help us!
Here at depressioNet we encourage everyone to participate in research that allows us to continually learn and better understand depression. Information on the full list of research projects is available on our website at: http://www.depressionet.com.au/research_project.html

Augmentation of an Antidepressant

This study is being conducted by Professor Gordon Parker from The Mood Disorders Unit - Black Dog Foundation and needs people who live in Sydney and have a first or new episode of depression requiring treatment. This research explores the amplification of an antidepressant for those with melancholeric depression. Additional information available at: http://www.depressionet.com.au/research/rsch12_intro.html

Neuroimaging in Bipolar Disorder

Neuroimaging simply means taking pictures of the brain. This study uses a variety of sophisticated techniques to create brain images using powerful computers. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is a special kind of brain scan that allows examination of the blood flow in the brain. It is very safe as it does not involve any radiation like conventional X-rays or CT scanning. The Mood Disorders Unit at The Prince of Wales Hospital, N.S.W are currently conducting a study using fMRI in order to learn more about the way the brain functions in Bipolar Disorder. Find out more about this study and others into Bipolar Disorder being undertaken at: http://www.depressionet.com.au/research/rsch8_intro.html

Belief Formation Project

Dr Susan Russell from the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria (MHRI) is conducting a research study that is exploring the causes of delusions and hallucinations. To participate in this study you must have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and live in the Melbourne region. Further information is available at: http://www.depressionet.com.au/research/rsch31_intro.html

What's on
FRIENDS: Preventing and treating anxiety in children and youth Training Program

FRIENDS is an Australian-developed world leading treatment and prevention program that helps young people cope with and manage anxiety and depression. The program has been recommended by Mind Matters and can be implemented with whole classes or with high needs children and young people in a school based setting. Training in the program will be provided in all major cities in Australia beginning with a Melbourne workshop on 10th February 2005. Further information is available on the flier at: http://www.aicafmha.net.au/enews/info04/friendsworkshopflyer2005.pdf

Review of Mental Health Services in Australia for 2003 - 2008

A review of mental health services in Australia titled "Out of Hospital, Out of Mind!" reported the obvious deficiencies in mental health care, but to date, there is insufficient data from government agencies about what really happens in mental health at local, regional and state/ territory levels. Consequently, the Mental Health Council of Australia is undertaking a state-by-state review of services from 2003. The goal is to produce a report in each state/territory to underpin urgent reform in your local area. To get more information about this study and to participate in the survey go to "http://www.mhca.com.au/survey/"

Kinesiology - helping you to feel better!
For milder forms of depression there are many 'alternate' treatments and strategies that can help reduce the symptoms. Natural therapies are becoming more and more popular and many have found them very helpful for mild depression, anxiety, stress etc. This article By Julie Begg, Practitioner of Kinesiology gives us an overview of Kinesiology.

NOTE: Remember to discuss any treatment with your doctor to ensure you are taking the best approach for you. There may be adverse reactions in combining treatments and your doctor can best advise you!

Holistic Kinesiology helps us let go of depression, anger, fearfulness and anxiety. It does so on three levels:

  • Physically - where lots of stress and tension is held
  • Emotionally - to find and address conscious / subconscious thoughts and feelings
  • Energetically - helping you to release those feelings, replacing them with new positive ones
The trick is to trigger a shift in your awareness so that you begin to see things in a different way, which in turn affects the way you perceive yourself and those around you.

Believe it or not this does work! I know because my first experience with Holistic Kinesiology was as a client and it completely turned my life around. It does vary, but the average number of sessions a person tends to need is between 4 - 6, one month apart. This, however, depends very much on the issue, its severity, and whether it is a recent or long-term problem.

Clients not on medication for depression have been amazed at how quickly they have responded. Those on medication, with the help of their doctor, have cut back significantly or gotten off it completely. Sleeping patterns have also improved, many aches & pain have disappeared, energy levels have increased and new positive attitudes emerge.

Holistic Kinesiology is completely safe and gentle, and all that is required of you is an open mind and a commitment to helping yourself get better. Techniques used are….

  • Flower & Gem Essences that are the catalyst for changing awareness some of which you will receive to take home to support you between sessions.
  • Colour & Sound on a vibrational level to help to clear physical, emotional & mental blocks.
  • Aromatherapy to assist in accessing the subconscious, helping us to find the core issues.
  • Visualisation, affirmations and Oracle cards are also used to give added insight.

Subtle energetic therapies and vibrational tinctures are safe, environmentally responsible, and definitely the way of the future! Give them a try and make your own decision about their effectiveness…

Can Medications 'Cause' Depression?
We are often asked if medications (whether for depression or for any other illness) can cause depression. The short answer is "No - there has been no research conducted that proves that any medication causes depression." Some medication, though, has been identified as increasing the probability of developing depression and clinical depression in people who already have some of the common risk factors for depression. Here we look at the risk factors for depression and give references to more information on medications in general.

So what does cause depression?

The fact is that there is no known 'cause' for depression, there are only known risk factors and things that may trigger depression. There are also many people for whom there is no known risk factor present and have had no known 'trigger' and yet have depression. So the best we can do is give an overview of the known risk factors.

Risk factors for depression

Risk factors are factors that are known to increase the likelihood of a person developing major depression and include:

  • History of frequent and/or multiple episodes (ie if you have had an episode of major depression in the past, it increases your likelihood of having another episode of major depression. This likelihood increases with each episode experienced)
  • Dysthymia (ongoing mild depression) That is, those who have an ongoing or 'chronic' mild depression are more likely to develop major depression.
  • Family history. Where there is a history of depression in family members, there is an increased likelihood of major depression.
  • Age - People over 60 years of age are more likely to develop major depression
  • People who have other mental illnesses, sleep disorders, suffer from substance abuse or have physical illnesses such as heart disease and asthma are also more likely to develop major depression than the population in general.
There are also conditions that produce symptoms very similar to depression such as Ross River Fever and under active thyroid, which is why it is very important to see a doctor if you think you may have depression so that they can do a thorough examination and rule out any other possible causes for your symptoms.

Taking medication (in general or any specific medication) has not been shown to be a risk factor for depression although the condition being treated by medication may be.

Antidepressant medications

While any antidepressant on the market has been proven to be effective in treating depression for the majority of people, there is a minority of people for whom antidepressant medication apparently increases depressive symptoms. It is not known if the antidepressant was the cause of the increase in symptoms because all antidepressants take 1-3 weeks to start taking effect and there may be an increase in symptoms that occurs which would have occurred regardless of whether the medication was taken. This is why it is strongly recommended that people work closely with their prescribing doctors and let them know about any concerns or reactions they experience - particularly when starting to take a medication for the first time.

Information on the relationship between medications in general and depression can be found in the version of this article 'Can Medications Cause Depression?' reviewed by Professor John Snowden which can be found at: http://www.depressionet.com.au/articles/medication.html

Partnering with your Doctor
People with depression, or any medical condition, are advised to partner with their doctors in their own treatment program. The important role of the patient is to stay aware of the details of their reactions to medication, (positive and negative) giving accurate information to the doctor and expressing concerns when felt. Ask your doctor how you can learn more about your condition, treatment and medication prescribed. And don't forget the people at depressioNet can always help you source the information you are seeking!

Our Stories
This months story is from Kathy and Alun, who both found depressioNet and also found each other through depressioNet and went on to be married last year! When depressioNet's CEO, Leanne, approached the couple to see if they would be prepared to speak about their experiences with depression and depressioNet in the media they both agreed. As we are all aware when facing up to the media, our stories sometimes can take on a different focus - as Kathy and Alun found out. The story is both powerful and heart-warming, and we have provided for you two articles. The first is the story of Kathy and Alun as written by Jane MacLatchy from 'Take 5' magazine, which was published in August 2004 and reproduced (with permission of course! : at: http://www.depressionet.com.au/articles/tcwcc.html The second, below, is written by Kathy and Alun themselves, as they reflect upon their experience of speaking publicly about their illness.

Reflections by Kathy and Alun

When Leanne first approached us asking if we would allow dNets media connections to 'advertise' our forthcoming marriage, it didn't take us long to agree. We both have much to be grateful for when it comes to dNet, and like many other members on the site, were doing all we could to raise awareness and much needed funds. This seemed like a great opportunity, and despite the knowledge that we would be exposing our 'secret selves' in a huge way, we agreed to go ahead with an article when we were approached by 'Take 5'. Speaking with the journalist came easily which surprised us both. After being such private people for so long, we were aware that we were opening ourselves up to scrutiny. Ultimately, many people would be reading our story, including friends and work colleagues. It was a daunting thought, but a situation we believed we were prepared for. When the article was published, our first thoughts were of some disappointment. We had hoped the focus would be more on depressioNet itself, and how it had helped us, and people like us. There was more emphasis on just the one of us than we had anticipated as we had believed that the focus would be on us as a couple. Despite this, and the initial fears we had now that the article had actually been published, we felt that as a couple we had taken a positive step. The overall response to the story has been positive. Most people understood that sharing our story like this had been a huge thing for both of us, and appreciated what it took to do it. It has also been heart-warming to see the number of people who registered with depressioNet as a direct result of reading the article. They may never have found depressioNet if not for our story, so it has been gratifying to know that we have played a small part in them finding the support and care that dNet is known for. We had several aims when it came to doing the article. We hoped to try and educate people, and alleviate some of the stigma associated with depression. We wanted to raise awareness of the existence of depressioNet. Many of us stumbled across the site while searching for information on depression. We wanted people to know that there was a place for them to come where they too could find the support and friendship that we had found. It was also important for us to get the message across that just because we have depression, we can still live productive lives and enjoy the good things that life has to offer. We hoped to be instrumental other people realising that depression is not the end, that there is life, and that life can be good and meaningful despite the illness. We wanted people to know that by having depression, and being a part of the depressioNet community, we have learnt new strategies in life which have helped us to overcome the more difficult times. Mostly, we wanted to show people that even when all hope seems lost, don't ever give up because with the support of depressioNet, doctors and counsellors, you CAN find the light shining through the darkness.

We certainly did !

ajmc & Socksy


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