Depression and Counseling Information
Finding a Counselor that can help you
If you have health insurance, start there. Call them and find out what your plan covers, and get a list of available professionals. Tell them you need counseling for depression.
If you don't have insurance, and cost is not a factor, then look in your local phone book for a Psychiatrist, and call to make an evaluation appointment.
If you don't have insurance, and cost IS a factor, look in your local phone book (business section white pages or yellow pages) for a number called "United Way's First Call For Help". Every large city should have a number for this, and it is a service run by United Way, that will hook you up with a low cost or sliding scale counselor in your area. When I was broke and unemployed and in need of counseling, they found a counselor for me that was sliding scale, and I only had to pay $2.00 a visit.
You can also look up local help in your area online - If you need help with tangible local items, like food, medical care, counseling services, health care, clothing, shelter, ect, look up your Local United Way office
If this seems too overwhelming to do, then go to the crisis page and talk to someone on a state crisis line - they can help you find counseling help in your area. If you find yourself feeling upset as you consider your past experiences, and especially if you feel hopeless, or are considering suicide, seek professional help immediately. To speak with a crisis counselor right away, go to the Crisis Intervention Help Page
I recommend only a woman as a counselor, because while men can be good counselors, I don't think they can really understand PASS - for the psychiatrist, either male or female is fine - the psychiatrist mainly prescribes medication and judges your overall state, but doesn't necessarily go through 'talking and healing' - the LCSW or the Psychologist does that aspect of it.
As on how to find one that will understand PASS - many professionals out there don't believe in PASS, or have never heard of it - but you can ask anyway. You can also tell them it is similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - (PTSD). They all should understand PTSD. You can also call the person you are considering for counseling, and ask the receptionist to have her call you back so you could ask her a few questions - then with a brief 3-5 minute phone call (for free) you could get a feel as to whether this counselor would be a good match for you. What I would ask would be:
1. Have you ever heard of Post Abortion Stress Syndrome?
2. Have you ever treated a woman for problems after an abortion?
3. Can you remain neutral about treating a woman who's had an abortion? (i guarantee you any good counselor will say 'yes'; it's their job to put their personal feelings aside and take care of the patient, whether they are personally prolife or prochoice - if you get hesitation, or a funny answer, or 'No' to this question, do NOT bother to see this counselor!)
4. Have you ever helped women with pregnancy loss feelings? "Pregnancy Loss" issues are when women have a miscarriage, or the baby dies in utero and then an abortion is performed to clear the uterus. This is becoming more recognized as a real issue for some women, and therapists are becoming more aware of ways to handle 'pregnancy loss' feelings. PASS issues are similar to pregnancy loss feelings, and a counselor that handles pg loss issues should be able to understand your feelings as well.
If she seems completely unaware of PASS, tell her it is similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - that will usually be something they can 'recognize'. After that say, "Thank you for your time", and hang up. These four questions will give you a good glimpse into this counselor's basic personality and treatment style - if you don't feel comfortable with the answers you got, or her personality, then keep calling around until you find one that hits you right in the phone conversation. You will be hopefully having treatment with this counselor for 6 or more months - it's important to make sure you are comfortable, and that she will be able to help you with your issues. If you start seeing a counselor, and feel like you are not connecting, or she is not understanding you, then don't be afraid to find a different counselor.
NASW is the professional organization for social workers. Among other things, they have a searchable database of social workers that do therapy.All of the social workers in the database are Licensed Clinical Social Workers [LCSW]s. If you have insurance you can probably look up a counselor on your insurance co's web site and see if they're listed in the NASW database. NASWs database is not all inclusive however.
Each listing includes their specializations (women's issues, grief/bereavement, general practice, etc), address, phone number and you can click on another link to get their educational background and other useful information. To get a list of results just type in city and state but don't check any of the speciality boxes because you won't get any results. The NASW site address is: www.naswdc.org. After you get there click on the left hand menu bar that says "Find a Social Worker" . (It's right above the big 'NASW JobLink' menu bar.)
More about Depression
Depression is a common condition that affects women with PASS - and depression is not just someone who can't 'snap out of it', or something you can just 'get over' - Clinical Depression is a chemical imbalance in your body, that needs to be treated with medication and with 'talk therapy'. Clinical Depression can be triggered by a stressful event (such as an abortion), and also can be aggravated by the hormonal changes that your body swings through after an abortion. To see if your depression falls under the 'Clinical Depression' guidelines, you can answer the questions in the online quiz.
Online Screening Test
On the surveys page, you can take the depression quiz. You can take this screening test for a reference point to see if you are 'clinically' depressed. Answering "Yes" to 2 or more questions means that you probably have depression that could benefit from professional support for your depression, with support including seeing a counselor and trying some medication.
There's also a test for another mental health issue, called "Dyslimbia" - it used to be referred to as "Borderline Personality Disorder". This is another important mental health issue that women should be aware of, since it can also be treated very successfully with medication. For more information on Dyslimbia, click here.
You Are Not Alone with Depression
One of the most scary emotional experiences a person will ever suffer during their lifetime is to experience a form of depression. Over 1 in 5 Americans can expect to get some form of depression in their lifetime. Over 1 in 20 Americans have a depressive disorder every year. Depression is one of the most common and most serious mental health problems facing people today.
You Are Not to Blame for Depression
Many people still carry the misperception that depression is a character flaw, a problem that happens because you are weak. They say, "Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps!" and "You're just feeling blue... You'll get over it."
Depression is not a character flaw, nor is it simply feeling blue for a few days. Most importantly, depression is not your fault. It is a serious mood disorder which affects a person's ability to function in every day activities. It affects one's work, one's family, and one's social life.
Today, much more is known about the causes and treatment of this mental health problem. We know that there are biological and psychological components to every depression and that the best form of treatment is a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
So What Does Cause It?
There are as many potential causes of depression as there are people who suffer it. For women who've had an abortion, if the abortion is recent the depression may be caused by the hormonal changes that occur after the ending of a pregnancy. Stress and trauma related to the abortion can also cause depression. Studies have shown that prolonged periods of stress, grief or sadness can cause your Serotonin level to drop. Serotonin is an important brain chemical neurotransmitter in your body. Lack of Serotonin causes serious malfunction with your brain chemicals, which results in depression. Once your Serotonin level is depleted in your brain, most of the time you will need medication to restore the level to normal. Eventually you may be able to discontinue the medication, and your brain will be able to manufacture enough of it's own Serotonin.
Counselors, Psychiatrists, Psychologists - let's figure out who does what!
Definition of Mental Health Professionals:
Psychiatrist (M.D.)- A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. It takes many years of education and training to become a psychiatrist: He or she must graduate from college and then medical school, and go on to complete four years of residency training in the field of psychiatry. This extensive medical training enables the psychiatrist to understand the body's functions and the complex relationship between emotional illness and other medical illnesses. The psychiatrist is thus the mental health professional and physician best qualified to distinguish between physical and psychological causes of both mental and physical distress.
Psychologist - Most clinical psychologists have a master's or doctoral degree; on the doctoral level, the degree is usually a Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy) or Psy.D. (doctor of psychology, which is not a medical doctor). A psychologist applies psychological principles to the treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders and developmental disabilities through a broad range of psychotherapies. A psychologist is commonly trained in advanced psychology, abnormal psychology, statistics, testing theory, psychological testing, psychological theory, research methods, psychotherapeutic techniques, and psychosocial evaluation.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) - A licensed clinical social worker (L.C.S.W.) is also trained in psychotherapy and helps individuals deal effectively with a variety of mental health and daily living problems to improve overall functioning. A social worker usually has a master's degree in social work (M.S.W.). and has studied, among others, sociology, growth and development, mental health theory and practice, human behavior/social environment, psychology, research methods. I recommend the LCSW as the person you would talk to weekly as your therapy. They are the ones best trained to understand a woman's feelings in relation to her environment, childhood, and social/human behavior interactions. LCSW's can't prescribe medication, however they usually work hand