Article by Dr. Joan Hillson originally submitted to the Airdrie Echo in May 2006

Psychology and Depression

Almost everyone feels down or sad at some time. But if these feelings don’t go away and/or interfere with your ability to live your life fully, you may be experiencing Depression. Depression is characterized by: sadness; loss of interest in usual activities; changes in appetite, sleep, and/or sexual desire; difficulties with concentration, memory, and/or decision-making; decrease in activities or social withdrawl; low self-esteem; and possibly even thoughts of or plans for suicide. Depression can vary in its severity. Not all symptoms need to be present in order for you to get help.

Depression is one of the most common mental health complaints with about 5% of men and 10% of women experiencing a Major Depressive Episode at some point in their lives. Many more people experience milder forms of depression.

In cases of either mild or severe depression, a Registered Psychologist can help the person identify and rectify the causes of his/her condition. This may be accomplished just through therapy, or in cooperation with a family doctor in cases where medication is warranted.

For more information, visit the Canadian Psychological Association website at

Article by Dr. Joan Hillson originally submitted to the Airdrie Echo in May 2006

Choosing a Psychologist

It can be difficult to decide to see a psychologist or other mental health professional. Thinking about talking to a stranger about personal matters can be upsetting. However, people often find it easier to discuss problems with someone who can be objective, honest, and non-judgemental because they do not know us, have no expectations of us, and do not play a specific role in our lives. Further, psychologists are trained and experienced in identifying specific psychological problems and how to best treat them.

Once you have chosen to seek help, verify that the professional you see is regulated—do they have a license to practice? You do this by calling the regulatory body. Psychologists are regulated by the College of Alberta Psychologists ( The College ensures that practitioners have met a high standard of training, provide a high standard of care, and have passed all required professional exams. It is also important to choose a professional with whom you feel comfortable. Is this person kind and non-judgemental? Does s/he attempt to understand me and my unique situation? Does this professional have experience in treating my specific problem?