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When Someone You Love Is Depressed

Depression affects not only the person who has it, but also the friends and family who love them. If you love someone with depression, here are some tips for coping with the effects of your loved one's illness.

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Depression Spotlight10

Young Fathers at Risk for Depression Too

Monday April 14, 2014

According to a new study, young fathers may be at risk for increased depression during the early years of their children's lives.

The researchers found that during the first five years of new fatherhood the young men who were studied - who were about 25 years old at the time their children were born - had depression symptoms which increased by around 68 percent during these crucial first years of their children's lives.

Dr. Craig Garfield, who authored the study, said these results indicate that it's not just new mothers who should be screened for depression.  New fathers can be at risk too.  Since having a depressed parent or parents can have a negative effect on young children, Garfield notes that doctors need to do a better job helping both moms and dads.

Garfield says that scientists already knew that paternal depression existed and can have negative effects on children.  His team's review of the medical literature surrounding this issue reveals that fathers who are depressed are more likely to use physical punishments to discipline their children.  They are also less likely to read to them and interact with them.  As a result, the children of depressed fathers tend to have poorer language  development and more behavioral problems.  What the researchers did not know, however, was where attention should be focused to deal with this problem.

To conduct the study, the team used data that has been gathered from 10,623 men who are enrolled in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health).  The study includes a nationally-representative sample of American adolescents and is designed to follow them over almost 20 years and they enter into young adulthood.  At each wave, their depression symptoms are scored using a well-known depression rating scale called the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.

During the most recent wave of the study, 33 percent of the young men, who were aged 24 to 32, had become fathers.

Of the men who had become fathers, most lived in the home with their children.  However, those who did not live with their children did not experience the same degree of worsening in their depression.  For these men, their symptoms became worse prior to fatherhood and then decreased after they became fathers.  On the other hand, those men who resided with their children had less depression before becoming fathers and more depression after.

The results of the study were published April 14, 2014 in the journal Pediatrics.

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Hypothyroidism and Depression

Sunday March 30, 2014

If you've been feeling tired and depressed you may think you have depression, but did you know that hypothyroidism can mimic the symptoms of depression?  This disease, in which the thyroid gland fails to produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormone, can cause symptoms similar to depression, such as tiredness, sleepiness, slowed speech, apathy and a loss of interest in persona relationships.  Before seeking treatment for depression,  it is a good idea to visit your family doctor for a checkup.  He can perform tests for hypothyroidism as well as other medical illnesses which may present with symptoms similar to depression.

What Is a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse?

Friday March 28, 2014

I thought I'd share a very informative email that I recently received from a reader.  In it, she discusses some very important treatment providers whom I have previously neglected to mention:  psychiatric-mental health nurses.  Thank you, Amy, for allowing me to share your email!

Hello Ms. Schimelpfening,

I was reading over some information contained on your depression site to find information for a research question. I actually don't have a question, but a comment. I noticed that you don't seem to discuss any type of psychiatric mental health nurses at all, even though these are individuals qualified to provide mental health services.

A psychiatric-mental health Registered Nurse is registered as a nurse with additional training and certification in providing services to this population. Clinical Nurse Specialists trained in the specialty of Psychiatric Mental Health can provide services, having obtained an advanced degree. Often they are able to provide pharmaceutical therapy (in accordance with state laws) as well as psychotherapy. Nurse Practitioners can also fall into this category. CNSs are trained at a masters level, and NPs can be trained at a masters or a doctoral level.

I am hoping that you can include these additional professionals in your information about depression and treatment providers. These individuals are trained and qualified but are largely unknown to the general public as professionals who can help. With your site being so accessible, you can help people understand they have many options for treatment and therapists.

Thank you.


Amy LaValla, RN

Update: In response to my posting of Ms. LaValla's email, I also received the following feedback from Dr. Jilda Green, a licensed psychologist.  She seems to be in some disagreement with how the terminology in the original email was used; and, since I am not personally an expert in this area, I will present this information as well.

Ms. Schimelpfening:

I appreciate your attempt to include advanced nursing practitioners in your column, but would like to suggest that you get the terminology correct by speaking with the credentialing agency: ANCC (American Nursing Credentialing Committee).

Any nurse working as a psychiatric-mental health nurse fits the title you used. Now ANCC has several specialty certifications and one is a an RNC which is a basic certification for nurses (with at least a BSN) who have specialized knowledge in this field. There also was CNS certification for psychiatric-mental health nurse specialists (holding a masters degree) although they could not prescribe or diagnose officially in some states (PA being one). More and more common now are the CRNP (certified registered nurse practitioners) or Psychiatric-Mental Health Advanced Nurse Practitioner PMH-APRN (adults) and FPMH- APRN (adults and children), who can both diagnose and prescribe.

More and more of these latter two are in private practic . The advantage of advanced nurse practitioners is that they have approaches which address the entire bio-psycho-social and spiritual aspects of the persons they are working with.


Dr. Jilda Green, PhD, RN

Licensed Psychologist

Spring Forward, Fall Back Into Depression?

Friday March 28, 2014

While many look forward to Daylight Saving Time and having more light at the end of the day, others, especially those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), may find themselves slipping back into depression at this time of year.

SAD, according to experts, is caused by a disturbance in our circadian rhythm.  Light entering into the eye controls this rhythm; but, during the winter months when days are shorter we may not be exposed to sufficient light during the morning hours, throwing our circadian rhythm off-balance and creating the symptoms of SAD (depression, fatigue and a craving for sweets).

For those with SAD, the longer days of spring bring relief from depression.  The arrival of Daylight Saving Time, however, may cause a temporary return of these symptoms as you are forced to once again wake when it is still dark and may not receive adequate exposure to morning light.

The best treatment for SAD?  According to SAD researcher Dr. Michael Terman bright light therapy has the best data supporting it.  Bright light therapy involves sitting in front of a  device designed for this purpose called a light box for about 30 minutes each morning to simulate the light you would normally get by being outside in sunlight.

Do you fall into a season long slump each winter that lifts as spring approaches?  Speak with your doctor about the possibility that you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder.

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