Program aims to aid depression treatment

Posted Jan. 06, 2010, at 9:02 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Many Mainers suffer from depression in one form or another, and the bleak midwinter can drive the disorder deeper. That’s why Dr. Jay Neil, a cardiac anesthesiologist at Eastern Maine Medical Center, is branching out to provide a new way to recover.

At an introductory lecture Tuesday night at the Bangor Public Library, Neil provided an overview of his 2010 Bam, an eight-week series of meetings and workshops aimed at providing education and lifestyle choices to those who suffer from depression.

This is the third winter Neil has offered the series.

The goal of the Depression Recovery Program is to help individuals identify the likely source of their depression, selecting from a list of 10 broad possible categories. These categories include genetics, early childhood experiences, disrupted sleep-wake cycles, substance abuse, poor levels of nutrition and activity, and ineffective coping with stress and grief.

Neil said the program, developed by Oklahoma-based Nedley Health Solutions, is intended to supplement and not replace the treatment of depression by other area clinicians including doctors, psychologists and counselors.

However, Neil said, mainstream clinical treatment with antidepressant medications is often a “simplistic” response to treating the complicated disorder of depression and often fails to get at the underlying cause. Even mental health counseling can fall short of identifying the source of depression or motivating the individual to undertake a program of self-care, he said.

While psychiatric medications are necessary for some people, including those who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other psychoses, Neil said many individuals who have participated in the Nedley program have been able to cut their doses of antidepressants and even quit altogether.

The program was developed by Dr. Neil Nedley, an internist.

Using readings from a textbook and filling in a workbook, participants will work in small groups to develop a better understanding of their depression and simple steps they can take to improve their lives.

The program is rooted in the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and includes a spiritual approach to meeting the challenges of day-to-day life. But Neil, who is a Seventh-day Adventist himself, said the spiritual component is applicable to people of all beliefs and faith traditions.

“Studies show us that people with spiritual behaviors have an improved ability to cope with stress,” he said.

There will be a second free introduction to the program at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, at the Bangor Public Library. The eight-week series will meet on Tuesdays beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12, at the Dyke Center for Family Business at Husson University in Bangor. The cost is $140 for the eight sessions and four books, or $40 for the sessions and the workbook alone. Call to register: 944-5953.

mhaskell@bangordailynews.net

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