Depression can happen to anyone. Depression
is a common disorder that negatively affects how a person feels, how they behave,
and the way person thinks. It can be severe and recurring. Depression can also
affect the individual’s significant others. The outcome of the depressive
episode is highly influenced by their family’s members response. In many cases,
it is crucial to welcome the family into sessions as part of assessing and
treating the depressed patient.
The client might feel alone or scared when entering therapy. When doing
research on this disorder, I came across a few people haring their personal
experience. Tom Doran’s story was extremely insightful. Tom describes how he
dealt with depression his whole life. In the article Tom states that he “suffered
from severe clinical depression since childhood” (Doran, 2012). Growing up and
even as an adult he always felt alone even when he was in a room full of
people. Tom details how he went to visit a friend who was dealing with the loss
of his best friend whom committed suicide. While visiting his friend and all
the people mourning, he realized that he could not hurt his loved ones. He did
not want to cause them the same pain he witnessed to those mourning the friend
that took his own life. Tom thought that overall, he his life was not that bad.
To him the positives of staying alive is that he could become a father, he
could see his future writing accomplishments, etc. He began to think of all the
positive he had to look forward to and decided to take each day at a time. The
positive of staying alive and not wanting to cause his family hurt is what
stooped him from going the course of suicide. In thinking of his case, I feel
it must be frightening to sometimes be surrounded by people and still feel
alone or to have so many issues bothering me and feel I cannot talk to anyone. Isabelle
tells another first-hand account of depression. She recounts her family
heritage of depression. Isabelle talks about her cousin Lisa who dealt with
depression for almost ten years. Isabelle says Lisa “looked after herself, she
exercised, and she sought medical attention” (Beyond Blue, 2018). After all
those years of fighting she lost the battle. Isabelle exclaims “unfortunately
when she was 20, Lisa could fight no longer, and she took her life” (Beyond Blue,
2018). Isabelle stated that her cousin’s suicide cause her to be depressed. She
wanted to scream. Isabelle also tells a brief story of how she her uncle
(Lisa’s father) succumb to depression after her suicide. He felt so much grief
and depression that he took his own life.
Isabelle sadly said, “depression is a thief, it robbed me of him” (Beyond
Blue, 2018). Isabelle was about 10 years old at the time her uncle died. The
suicides of Isabelle’s cousin and uncle caused her to be depressed; however,
she saw another way out. Isabelle knows that she comes from a family full of love
and support. The strength and support of her family kept her going. In
addition, she saw and felt the impact that the suicides left behind on her
family. Regarding this, I would be willing to go to therapy and try to get
passed my depression. Isabelle’s case was an eye opener as to how depression
can trickle down.
Family heritage plays a huge role on depression. Families can pass down
depression through family interaction. This is the emotional and environmental influence
that is dialoged via family gatherings, negative family coping skills, and
everyday family gatherings. A study was conducted by Wisdom (2006), consisting
of fifteen teens, thirteen were Caucasian and two were Hispanics. About eight
teenagers could provide details of depression heritage. One boy discusses that
after he was diagnosed is when he learned his mother was also diagnosed with
depression. To add, he found out that on his father’s side two people suffered
from depression and committed suicide. In many families, depression is kept
quiet and nobody wants to reveal any family history of depression.
Family dysfunction is highly present in families with a depressed
member. Depression is linked with impaired family functioning in different
cultures. Both depression and family dysfunction tend to be ceaseless, making a
heinous cycle long-lived; for several years. Depressed clients may act in ways
that bother and isolate family members, which leads to rejection of the
depressed clients. Distress in relationships can cause depression through loss
of emotional interaction and intimacy (Gabor, 2017). Gabor (2017), stated that
marital distress accounted for an increase in depressive symptoms. Support from
a spouse can help decrease the occurrence of depression when stressful events
take place. The way a family functions determines the course of illness in
clients with depression. Help from family can improve adapting and can soften
the effect of depressive symptoms and initiate recovery. Family dysfunction can
interrupt the recovery. A slow recovery is linked to family dysfunction.
Continued judgment, criticism, and other negativity within the family escalates
the chance of a recurrence after recovery from depression (Gabor 2017).
There was a study done on the family influence on depression in teens.
It is suggested that a good family support system can help teens with
depression. Wisdom (2006) exclaimed that family cohesion and satisfaction with
family support are linked with lower occurrence of reported adolescent depression.
A chaotic family environment, poor communication between the parent and teen,
and negative parental feedback about depression can add to the start of teen
When learning of a family member being diagnosed by depression, the
reaction can be positive or negative. Many family members who want to help may
have feelings of sadness, eager, afraid, or even happiness. Sadness because
they did not see the signs that their loved one was suffering. They may be
eager to want to help. Afraid because they do not know all that depression
entails or they may not know how to help. Happiness because they now know what
has been bothering their loved one and how their loved one is getting the help
they need. This day and age more families know about depression. They know that
one can be helped by seeing a counselor or getting put on some medication. Some
reactions to depression can be lack of support between family members, blame,
criticism, or even hostility in response to the client’s social isolation.
Family interventions can cause issues if
the therapist sees that the members caused the client’s depression. Families
who have not dealt with depression may try to conceal it, act as though the
person is not suffering from it, isolate them, or give them negative feedback.
This can make the disorder more severe. Many family members are willing to help
a member who is seeking treatment. Sometimes they can be over involved and not
realize it; causing more harm than good. Overall, positive feedback from
families has shown increased improvement in a client’s success. Teaching
families about the condition is crucial. This is where psychoeducation comes in
handy. Psychoeducation focuses on changing negative attributes regarding the
client’s depression, educating them on coping skills, educating about the signs
and symptoms of depression, and addressing treatments that are available.
Family therapy is more often used in conjunction with pharmacotherapy
and/or individual psychotherapy for treating depression. In other cases that
are not severe, family therapy can be used alone to treat depression. Therapy
attempts to redefine issues between family members, increase knowledge about
depression, inform about coping mechanisms, decrease conflict, and improve
communication skills. A treatment plan is an integral part of therapy.