Letters Against Depression: Giving Hope Through a Note


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The uncertainty of the pandemic, job loss, isolation … all of these are contributing to the increase of people feeling depressed, lonely, and mentally unstable. But for thousands of people around the world, a simple act of kindness is helping them pull through.

Robert Mason writes letter after letter after letter to people all across the world who are suffering in silence.

“I went through a very bad spiral of depression,” explained Mason.

He created a Facebook post reaching out asking for anyone who felt the same way, promising to write them a letter. There was an immediate response that kept growing.

“We have sent out letters to just over 2,000 people to date from all over the world,” Mason shared.

That was the start of Letters Against Depression, a website where people can fill out a questionnaire and be matched with a volunteer who writes them a letter.

“She included this little drawing too,” said Emily Dehmer.

Dehmer reached out after dropping out of school.

“I admire your courage and determination to recover and live a better life. It just brought me a lot of hope,” read Dehmer.

Yasmin Flasterstein is a volunteer writer. She shares her journey while helping others through their tough times.

“I know how much a small act of kindness or a little word can change someone’s day from even feeling suicidal to wanting to fight for even another hour,” exclaimed Flasterstein.

“People will reply and say, your letter saved my life today,” smiled Mason.

The letters connect people throughout 60 countries who are feeling alone in the world.

It’s completely free to receive a letter and entirely anonymous. The letters are sent to Mason, who makes sure the content is appropriate, and then he mails your letter. It costs about $7,500 a year for postage and other business costs. A small grant and donations help to cover the expenses. To sign up for a letter or to volunteer, go to www.lettersagainst.org.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Matt Goldschmidt, Videographer.


REPORT #2785

BACKGROUND: Depression is a common but serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. However, it is treatable. Depression can cause feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. It can also decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home. In the United States, depression affects over 18 million adults in any given year and is the leading cause of disability for ages 15-44. It is the primary reason why someone dies of suicide every 12 minutes. Symptoms vary from mild to severe and can include changes in appetite (weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting), trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of energy or increased fatigue, feeling worthless or guilty, difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions, and thoughts of death or suicide.

(Source: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression and https://www.hopefordepression.org/depression-facts/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3pPttK7h6wIVDYiGCh2qhg7rEAAYASAAEgKG0PD_BwE)

COVID AND DEPRESSION: The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful bringing about fear and anxiety about the disease and what could happen. It is overwhelming and can cause strong emotions in adults and children. Actions like social distancing can make people feel isolated and lonely and increase stress and anxiety. However, these actions are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. There are healthy ways in coping with stress. Knowing what to do if you are sick such as contacting a health professional before you start any self-treatment. Knowing where and how to get treatment including counseling or therapy. Taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Taking deep breaths, stretching, or meditating. Eat healthy, balanced meals, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep is very important. Connect with others and talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.

(Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html)

NEW TREATMENT FOR DEPRRESSION: There is a group of therapies being studied known collectively as neuromodulation, which means applying electricity selectively and in specific patterns to change the activity of brain cells. Several neuromodulation technologies are under development, and a couple have already been approved by the FDA and are in use for depression. They are vagal nerve stimulation that uses electrodes implanted in the body, and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS stimulates nerve cells electrically without the need for surgery, electrodes, or any other implanted brain hardware. Patients receiving neuromodulation therapy do not feel better instantly because it’s not the electrical stimulation itself that relieves depression, it is a delayed change occurring in brain cells after the stimulation is over that improves mood. Short-term activity changes at synapses can lead to long-term changes in a neuron’s properties. Together, all these aspects add up to changes in brain circuitry and brain activity, but takes weeks or even months to transpire.

(Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/healthy-prescriptions/202005/whats-new-in-treatment-depression)

* For More Information, Contact:

Robert P. Mason, Robert@lettersagainst.org

(407) 346-1955


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