Online Counseling Directory

Counselling Directory is an online directory and information bank for
anyone who’s considering counselling to research their problems, learn
about counselling and what to expect from a session, and find a
counsellor suitable to their needs. The founders set it up after a
friend of theirs was going through a difficult time, and wanted to visit
one place that all the information she needed. They found that such a
site did not exist, so they decided to set it up. Since then it has
grown from strength to strength, attracting more and more members, and
providing up-to-date health news, as well as information about many
types of distress.

Counselling
Directory

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Worst Things to Say to Someone Who’s Depressed

Image: Night by Edward Robert Hughes
Night by Edward Robert Hughes

Some people trivialize depression (often unintentionally) by dropping a platitude on a depressed person as if that is the one thing they needed to hear. While some of these thoughts have been helpful to some people (for example, some find that praying is very helpful), the context in which they are often said mitigates any intended benefit to the hearer. Platitudes don’t cure depression.

Here is the list from contributors to a.s.d. (alt.support.depression):

0. “What’s *your* problem?”

1. “Will you stop that constant whining? What makes you think that anyone cares?”

2. “Have you gotten tired yet of all this me-me-me stuff?”

3. “You just need to give yourself a kick in the rear.”

4. “But it’s all in your mind.”

5. “I thought you were stronger than that.”

6. “No one ever said life was fair.”

7. “As you get stronger you won’t have to wallow in it as much.”

8. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

9. “Do you feel better now?”(Usually said following a five minute conversation in which the speaker has asked me “what’s wrong?” and “would you like to talk about it?” with the best of intentions, but absolutely no under-standing of depression as anything but an irrational sadness.)

10. “Why don’t you just grow up?”

11. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

12. “There are a lot of people worse off than you?”

13. “You have it so good, why aren’t you happy?”

14. “It’s a beautiful day!”

15. “You have so many things to be thankful for, why are you depressed!”

16. “What do you have to be depressed about”.

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Best Things to Say to Someone Who’s Depressed

Image: Day by Edward Robert Hughes
Day by Edward Robert Hughes

It is most tempting, when you find out someone is depressed, to attempt to immediately fix the problem. However, until the depressed person has given you permission to be their therapist (as a friend or professional), the following responses are more likely to help.

The things that didn’t make me feel worse are words which 1) acknowledge my depression for what it is (No ‘it’s just a phase’) 2) give me permission to feel depressed (No ‘but why should you be sad?’)

Here is the list from contributors to a.s.d.:

1. “I love you!”

2. “I Care”

3. “You’re not alone in this”

4. “I’m not going to leave/abandon you”

5. “Do you want a hug?”

6. “I love you (if you mean it).”

7. “It will pass, we can ride it out together.”

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Antidepressants Primer

Image: Circe Invidiosa by John William Waterhouse
Circe Invidiosa by John William Waterhouse

If you or someone you know is beginning treatment for depression, you probably have done some research. Of course, you’re being treated by a doctor who will advise you and do the prescribing, but like any smart patient, you want to be informed.

Chances are that one thing stands out: the choice of drugs for mood disorders like depression can be bewildering. Even for someone like me, who has been taking them for twenty years and writing about mental health almost as long, the landscape is confusing. Things have changed since I first started treatment for depression in 1990. There are several reasons for this.

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in School-Age Children

Image: Carnation, Lilly, Lilly, Rose by John Singer Sargent
Carnation, Lilly, Lilly, Rose by John Singer Sargent

Introduction

“You’re lazy.” “You’re stupid.” “I know you could do better in school if you just tried.” “Why can’t you calm down?” Although most children hear at least one of these questions and/or comments at one time or another, children who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (also known as ADHD, AD/HD or ADD) hear them all the time – from parents, peers, teachers, even strangers. In the past, children with this disorder have been labeled by their parents and teachers as troublemakers or underachievers, by their peers as weird. Teenagers who have ADD often indulge in criminal behavior or drug and alcohol abuse. The medical community used to label them as brain-damaged.

Children with ADD lack some of life’s essential coping skills. They can’t pay attention, can’t sit still and have trouble fitting into the structure of their school and family. They may be forgetful, disorganized, impulsive, and hyperactive.

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You Can’t Fight Depression on Your Own

Washing Line by John Singer Sargent

Two things happened today that made me want to pound my head against a wall, Charlie Brown-style. The first was that I got an email from a woman who said that she is suffering from severe depression, but that friends and family want her to try to “talk herself out of it”, and not get involved with medication and therapy. Now, it is not unusual for me to get an email from someone who either (1) feels they should be able to handle their own depression without treatment (2) feels that someone close to them should be able to handle their depression on their own, or (3) is being talked out of seeking treatment by family or friends. These emails never fail to raise my blood pressure a few notches.

The stress from this communication was doubled when the second thing happened, which is that I went to the Psychology/Self-help section at my local bookstore. It seems to be the largest section in the store. As I looked for legitimate books on depression and its treatment, I couldn’t help but see all the “help yourself” titles in that section, as well as what I call the “Thank God I’m here to tell you what to do, you pathetic loser” books. Dr. Laura Schlessinger was telling me that I do 10 stupid things to mess up my life (only 10, Dr. Laura?), John Roger and Peter McWilliams were telling me that I couldn’t afford the luxury of a negative thought (gee, and I was having so much fun spoiling myself with those negative thoughts), countless others were telling me that if I just bought their book and put some effort into it, I could be happier, sexier, smarter, successful and more fulfilled. When it came to depression, there was no shortage of advice. Apparently I can embrace depression, use it as a tool for self-discovery, and run it off (at the same time I’m running off those belgian waffles, I guess – how handy). By this time I was way past pounding my head against a wall, and into the Yosemite Sam stage, in which I want to jump up and down and swear uncontrollably.

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Postpartum Depression

Breakfast in Bed by Mary Cassatt

Postpartum depression is the cruelest form of depression, coming when it does. Your most joyful (albeit totally sleep-deprived) time becomes your most torturous. After I had my son, I was certainly sleep deprived, but my overwhelming emotion was wonder and absolute content. My parents told me that I was a natural mother. Certainly taking care of my son came much more easily than I had expected, and I had less self-doubt than I had anticipated.

Of course, with my history of depression, I went back on antidepressants right away (I decided not to breastfeed, since I also had to immediately start taking the medication for my Multiple Sclerosis again). I didn’t want to lose one minute of my time with my son to depression, and I knew that a mother’s depression could affect her infant. Luckily, I didn’t have one moment of postpartum depression. I didn’t even suffer from the “baby blues,” a milder form of postpartum depression, that usually starts a few days after the birth. The baby blues generally lasts less than 2 weeks, and is thought to be caused by the hormonal change and loss of endorphins after the birth.

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