Children of Seperation and Divorce Center, Inc. / Columbia: 410-740-9553
Dr. Doug Heinrichs, an accomplished psychiatrist in the Howard County Community, presented the topic, “Depression, What It Is and How To Cope” to an audience of COSD peer counselors, participants and staff. Dr. Heinrichs was knowledgeable and reassuring on the subject. He explained, “There are two kinds of depression, the kind of depressed or sad feeling that everyone experiences at times and depression the illness, which is different because it has physical symptoms and interferes with life.” People who have clinical depression may feel sad, irritable, worried, angry, pessimistic or hopeless. Most people experience sleep disturbances, low energy, weight gain or loss, headaches or stomachaches and difficulty concentrating. There are two different ways to treat clinical depression, talking about and dealing with your problems with a counselor and medication or any combination of the two.
Dr. Heinrichs explained, “Counseling does for depression what physical therapy does when someone has an injury, it gently teaches you to use that part again.” “Medication gets rid of the symptoms so that people can begin to deal with their problems.” Dr. Heinrichs taught the group how depression affects chemicals in the brain and how anti-depressant medication gets those chemicals back in balance. “It is not a happy pill.” he assured the group; ”People who take antidepressants still experience a normal range of emotions.”
Continued on page two
Healing Hearts/ Volume 1, Issue 8 / Page 2 of 3
to talk about your problems so that you do not dwell on them and become susceptible to depression. Developing healthy habits such as a proper diet, sleep and exercise help as well. Lora, a counselor, asked, ”What can we do if we know someone who is depressed and needs help?” Dr. Heinrichs gave four suggestions: 1. Encourage them to get treatment. 2. Help the person understand that depression is not their fault. 3. Motivate the person to get out and keep busy. 4. Encourage the person to talk about what is bothering them. For more information on depression and how to cope, contact DRADA, the support and information networkfor affective disorders, on the web.
Lynne, a peer counselor, asked, “If you take antidepressants once, does that mean that you can never stop taking them or you will be depressed again?” Dr. Heinrichs explained that clinical depression generally occurs in episodes. “If you have had several episodes of depression, particularly close together, then you may want to consider staying on the medication.” There are other factors that influence whether or not a person will experience more than one episode of clinical depression. “The single biggest factor in determining whether a person will become depressed is a family history of depression.” said Dr. Heinrichs. Carolyn, a counselor, asked, ”Is there anything we can do to prevent depression from occurring?” Dr. Heinrichs answered that the best thing you can do to prevent depression is to learn
Last month, we began a discussion about substance abuse and how teens sometimes turn to alcohol, drugs or tobacco to mask pain that they are feeling. A few of the peer counselors present for Dr. Heinrich’s talk about depression had questions about how depression and substance abuse are related. The following are excerpts from the discussion.
Often, people who have depression turn to substances like drugs or alcohol to try to make themselves feel better. The drugs work for a very short time, by giving the user a sense of euphoria or relaxation. However, when the drugs or alcohol wear off, the depression becomes even worse, contributing to the possibility of the person becoming addicted. A big tip-off that a teen might have depression is if they begin to use drugs or alcohol. Teens who come in for treatment of depression sometimes think that it’s hypocritical to treat depression with a drug and yet not allow them to use drugs. This is just wrong! Antidepressant medication helps bring the brain chemicals back to their normal state. It does not make people who are not depressed “super happy” or change an individual’s personality. Otherwise, people would be selling anti-depressants on the street, and you don’t see that happening! Depression is a physical illness that can be treated with therapy, medication, either one or both.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or substance abuse or you are concerned about someone who is, get help right from a trusted adult right away.
Dr. Heinrichs (center) poses with peer counselors Cynthia, Shannon, Gabby, Ayse and David
Coping With Depression, Continued from page one
“Letter to Parents” By Katrina, age 11
Your children need lots of care at this time. It’s rough for everyone. Your kids will experience tough situations, but you can be loving and comfort your child. You shouldn’t run away. You should stay there to comfort your child. Your child needs you. You should discuss your feelings with your child and don’t take your feelings out on your child.
“Letter to the Kids” By Katrina, age 11
You may experience hard times, so remember don’t hold your feelings in. It will only get you sick. Take care of yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your feelings with your parents, share with a counselor. It is so important to share your feelings that I can’t even explain. There are going to be a lot of changes, but you can make it through these changes.
“Can’t We Get Along” By Carlos, 12