The following statistics on depression in women come from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH):
• One in four women will experience severe depression at some point in life.
• Depression affects twice as many women as men, regardless of racial and ethnic background or income.
• Depression is the number one cause of disability in women.
• In general, married women experience depression more than single women do, and depression is common among young mothers who stay at home full-time with small children.
• Women who are victims of sexual and physical abuse are at much greater risk of depression.
• At least 90 percent of all cases of eating disorders occur in women, and there is a strong relationship between eating disorders and depression.
• Depression can put women at risk of suicide. While more men than women die from suicide, women attempt suicide about twice as often as men do.
• Only about one-fifth of all women who suffer from depression seek treatment.( http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1mdd_adult.shtml)
Another research study found that depression has been called the most significant mental health risk for women, especially younger women of childbearing and childrearing age (Glied & Kofman, 1995) Given these statistics, one wonders why more emphasis has not been given to depression in women. Why campaigns to alert everyone from high school students to senior citizens have not been created to bring awareness of how prevalent and debilitating this disorder it.
Finally, there is a good place dedicated to the emotional health of women that has recently opened its doors where women can seek remedy for depression as well as other psychological disorders. It’s called the Seleni Institute, located on East 94th Street on the Upper East Side, and its conception is intimately tied with the story of a Greek couple of the Diaspora who has made a career on focusing on women’s mental health. The Institute is one of the branches of the philanthropic tree of the Libra Group, a conglomerate of shipping, real estate and hospitality interests headed by George Logothetis, the institute’s treasurer. Three years in the making, it finally opened its doors in May of this year.
George Logothetis’ interest in the mental health field was no doubt spurred by his wife, Nitzia Logothetis, who is a trained psychotherapist with an interest in motherhood, mood and anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress, and eating and personality disorders. She stated in a recent article published in the Pappaspost that she took on the task of founding this type of center, focused on the mental health of women especially as it relates to their life cycle as mother and nurturers because as she says, “Services for children are usually quite good, but there is an absence of services for the parents . . . The idea is that if you can treat the mother then you really have a better chance of treating the entire family.”
Nitza Logothetis has worked extensively as a counselor and psychotherapist across such institutions as the Colegio Isaac Rabin in Panama, the Karen Horney Clinic in New York, the Brimble Hill School for Children with Disabilities in Swindon, UK, and at the Instituto Ateneo in Panama. She also assisted at the Nutre Hogar (a home for malnourished children) and at the Hospital del Niño, both in Panama City. Additionally, she has volunteered at FUNDADES, an orphanage for children with disabilities in Lima, Peru, and served as a mentor to children living with disabilities through Project Eye-to-Eye at Brown University.
The breadth of her work experience matches the depth of her training in psychology. She has a degree in psychology from Brown University followed by an MSc in child development from the University of London. As an Honorary Associate Research Fellow at The Institute of Psychiatry in London, she engaged in research into neurological changes associated with autism and was the coauthor of several papers on the subject. She later earned an MA in counseling for mental health and wellness from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
Seleni is truly a unique place because it caters to the whole person and the whole family of which the person is a part. “There are actually only two or three hospitals for mothers across the country. But there’s really nothing like Seleni, which offers such a broad range of services… Not only do we provide psychotherapy, we also provide workshops and support groups. It’s very difficult to find everything all under one roof – and that’s what makes us so unique,” she states.
I can vouch for this opinion, as I am for the record, not only a reporter but a client of Seleni. Upon walking through the elevator doors to the second floor, one enters a serene, harmonious ambiance, created by the cool color scheme of off-white and green as well as the black and white photography of a tree-lined country path as much so as the calming floral fragrance of Alora Ambiance reed diffuser which wafts throughout the space. The therapists are truly attentive listeners who use an eclectic approach to providing quality care to the client. It is a sanctuary that allows one to reconnect with one’s inner self and bring a sense of wholeness and connectedness to others.
By treating women’s emotional health within the broader context of motherhood and women’s life cycles, Seleni destigmatizes many of the labels thrust upon them. As she stated in a recent interview, “We feel this allows us to destigmatize mental health. This is very important because as soon as you mention any diagnosis, most people go running the other way. But by looking at it through the lens of motherhood it sort of makes it more accessible to people. It makes things more tangible and understandable.”
It is not a matter of “my hormones vs. myself” as if there is a war between the two; the Center treats a woman as if her hormones are part and parcel of who she is, looking to understand the causes of depression, anxiety, and burn out within the context of the cares and demands placed on women of child-bearing age.
Another thing that sets Seleni Institute apart is its emphasis on research. As Logothetis does come from a very research-based background in treating mental illness, it would be a logical extension that the Institute runs a research arm that makes scientifically-proven conclusions about the mind-body connection, especially as concerns the impact hormones have on mood and the physical body.
I am very happy that such a place as Seleni Institute exists. It will have a positive influence on the lives of many women. It has already in the life of this just one.
For more information and a way to connect to other women who suffer from the pains of infertility, miscarriage, early infant loss, anxiety and depression during or after pregnancy and even menopause, log onto their website at www. seleni.org.