Depression can put a terrible strain on a family, if help is not sought.  Choosing not to see a professional for talk therapy and medication is a terrible mistake.  Perhaps a traumatic event has happened in the person's life which he/she cannot cope with.  A death, divorce or moving far away from family and friends can trigger a depressive episode.  Also, depression can run in the family, and the odds are higher that another family member can inherit this disease.  Feelings of worthlessness, crying, lethargic, anxiety and constant worry are signs that something is wrong if these symptoms do not diminish.  Happy is not a word in the depressed person's vocabulary.

What can the person in the family who is not depressed do?  Educate yourself about depression.  Understand the person cannot "snap" out of this illness.  It's going to take time.  Encourage the person to take baby steps.  Do something small each day.  Be kind and understanding.  Also, the person not experiencing depression should take time out and do something they like.  Their feelings need to be taken into consideration, as this is very hard for them to see their loved one suffering.

Counseling and medication in tandem work well.  Antidepressants take about a month to reach their full potential, and this is a time of frustration as the person ultimately wants to feel better.  A big mistake that depressed people make is they are feeling better and decide they no longer need their medication.  This is so far from the truth!  The medication is what is making the person feel like themselves again, and stopping their medication is going to put them back at square one - depressed!

Think of depression this way.  Diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol  are all diseases as well as mental illness.  Mental illness is one disease that people don't like to talk about.  The good news is depression is becoming much more understood than it ever was!  People who suffer from this illness are willing to talk to others and compare notes.  Hence depression groups which is a wonderful way to tell your story and listen to others.  Venting is a wonderful way to release the stressors that got you in trouble in the first place.  Friendships are formed from a group discussion, and these meetings are something to look forward to.

As you make your way through this journey, exercise, take your medication and attend counseling sessions.  Depression will soon be a thing of the past in your life, and you will look back on this as a great learning experience!