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Valerie Cordero and Susan Weinstein are interim co-executive directors at Families for Depression AwarenessValerie Cordero and Susan Weinstein have been named interim co-executive directors of Families for Depression Awareness, succeeding founder Julie Totten, who recently left after nearly fourteen years at the helm. For two years prior to Julie’s departure, the three worked closely as the senior management team.

“Having Valerie and Susan as interim leaders ensures that Families for Depression Awareness is in good hands and allows the Board to undertake a deliberate process to find the right person to be our next executive director,” said Carol Thomas, chair of the board. “The Board is extraordinarily confident in their ability to continue expanding our programs and increasing our reach.”

gailfamilyI would like to share my story about my ex-husband Lothar to help others recognize the symptoms of depression that our family lived with. My goal is to help erase the stigma of depression and eliminate the feeling of being alone that often affects the family members of those who suffer from depression.

studioAs someone who identifies as gender neutral and continually struggles with living in a body that I do not necessarily feel linked to, I could not help but see my own story reflected in the story of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender youth whose life was recently lost to suicide.

preoxygenation_before_anesthetic_inductionResearchers have recently begun studying the effectiveness of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, in treating depression. Although many people who struggle with depression find relief from a combination of medication and therapy, there are some who still have a hard time finding wellness and may be suffering from what is often referred to as Treatment Resistant Depression. The prevalence of Treatment Resistant Depression has caused researchers to spend time seeking alternative, nonstandard options that may be more effective.

depressedteenmaleAdolescent cases of Major Depressive Disorder make up about 2/3 of eventual adult cases of depression. Yet even with such prevalence, only about a third of adolescents with Major Depressive Disorder are receiving depression-specific treatment, and about a third are receiving care from a mental healthcare provider. That such a small percentage of adolescents are receiving comprehensive treatment to address their depression is concerning.

brain-cerebellumDepression and bipolar disorder are often regarded, inaccurately, as non-medical conditions, so it is encouraging when new research reveals more about the actual medical and physical components of these mental illnesses. Not only does this provide some affirmation to those who may be struggling, but it also offers insight into specific types of treatment that may be effective.

Julie Totten, Founder, departs Families for Depression AwarenessIt has been 14 years since I founded Families for Depression Awareness out of my apartment as just a dream to raise awareness of depression and prevent suicides, which you have helped make a reality. Now the time has come for me to step down as executive director and start a new chapter in my life.

I am pleased to announce that Susan Weinstein and Valerie Cordero will take over as Interim Co-Executive Directors of Families for Depression Awareness working with Carol Thomas, our board chair and our entire dedicated board of directors and staff. Susan and Valerie have been working with me as a team for a number of years and are more than capable of running Families for Depression Awareness. I feel very comfortable leaving the organization with such strong staff and board leadership.

Dan with son, AlexI lost my beloved 17-year-old son Alex to suicide four years ago. Alex was a smart high school senior who was interested in math and electric cars. He had a good sense of humor and planned to go to college. But, Alex was dealing with more than we recognized. 

Woman walking on the beach with daughterWhen I was in my early twenties, I was pregnant with my daughter Trinity. I had a difficult labor and painful post-pregnancy complications. Eventually, I slipped into depression. I was thousands of miles away from my family and support system. I felt hopeless and didn’t have the energy to do anything, let alone take care of Trinity or my husband.

One day, I found myself on a rooftop ready to jump and end my life.

Valerie CorderoLike you, I am passionate about preventing suicides and helping families that are struggling with mental health conditions. One way you can help is by asking your family and friends to donate to Families for Depression Awareness during the holiday season.


Donate Now to Families for Depression Awareness


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If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 800-273-TALK or 911 immediately. For crisis support via text message, text LISTEN to 741741.