Depression support Group extends a helping hand to local residents |

Depression support Group extends a helping hand to local residents


Staff Writer

Linda Ketcham first began attending the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance in Grass Valley to meet people like herself, who struggle with mood disorders. Soon she has found the help she needed from reading materials, professional advice and discussions at the meetings.

The free support group, which was formed two years ago, meets at the Unitarian Church on South Church Street from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month.

“One of the biggest problems in society is the stigma associated with depression,” Ketcham said. “A lot more people have it than they want to admit.

“This particular group has a local psychiatrist as a professional advisor. The meetings are very well moderated, so people don’t whine on and on. They also have a speaker come once a month and talk about mood disorders.”

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is a national peer-run group with its headquarters in Chicago, said Abigail Weissman, who co-founded the local chapter.

“I had experience with the group in Dallas, and I had volunteered for them,” Weissman said. “The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is a national organization with well over 20 years of experience in helping people with two of the most common mental illnesses. We focus exclusively on mood disorders.”

Prevalence of depression and bipolar disorder in Nevada County roughly parallels the nationwide incidence, said Dr. Eric Rubinstein, a local psychiatrist.

“In the country as a whole, 3 percent of people will have bipolar spectrum disorder,” he said. “About 15 to 20 percent of women will develop a major depression during their lifetime. Half that number of men will develop a major depression for unknown reasons.”

Among the senior population, men tend to be more prone to suicide, Rubinstein said.

“They are prone to depression and have access to weapons,” he said. “They are prone to despondency feeling defeated by the vicissitudes of life. Often after they retire, men are at a loss as to the meaning of their lives.

“Many older individuals see a stigma in seeing a psychiatrist or a doctor which is unfortunate because depression is very treatable these days. With proper treatment, you can greatly ameliorate or eliminate symptoms of depression in at least 75 percent of the time.”

Meeting with a support group is a “good adjunct” to the treatment one can get for depression, Rubinstein said. “But I believe people with depression need primary treatment for it,” Rubinstein said. “Generally, the best treatment is a combination of psychotherapy or counseling and medication.”

To contact the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, call Linda Ketcham at 477-5642, or Chris Anderson at 346-2160.

To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail or call 477-4229.

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