You and your spouse have been
married for many years.Suddenly your
spouse gets irritable with every little thing you do.They are unwilling to continue participating in some favorite
activities.You notice they have
started sleeping more than normal.Perhaps they have even gained some weight.Did you know that these could all be signs of depression?One possible reaction may be for you to
avoid spending time with your spouse because you are confused by their
behavior.Or, arguments may increase
dramatically in frequency.
One of the main themes of the book,
When Someone You Love Is Depressed,
is that these behavior changes that negatively impact on your relationship with
your spouse, coworker, boss, friend, or relative, may signal depression if all
other causes for the behavioral change can be ruled out.Depression may be one of the most undiagnosed
illnesses affecting people today.This
book emphasizes the fact that you cant resolve the relational problems until
the cause for the disturbing behavioral change is identified and treated.
Everyone in a relationship with a
depressed person experiences several stages in adapting to that persons
depression.First, you recognize that
there is some trouble in your relationship.You will react to that trouble in some fashion.Perhaps you will clam up or beginning
avoiding that person.Or, you may try
to spend more time with that person to help them get over their changed
behavior.Third, you begin questioning
other people who know them to determine what they have observed and how they
are interpreting that changed behavior.This is called the information gathering stage.Finally, you should begin problem
solving together so you can resolve the relationship
difficulties.Unfortunately, in most
relationships with an undiagnosed depressed person, you never get to the
problem solving stage.Your friendship
or marriage may break up before you even find out the person causing the
difficulties is experiencing depression and can be treated medically for this
The authors present eight key
guidelines for having a relationship with a depressed person.These are 1.Learn all that you can.2. Have realistic expectations.3. Give unqualified support.4.
Keep your routine.5. Express your
feelings.6.Dont take it personally. 7. Ask for help. 8. Work as a team.
The different types of depression
are thoroughly discussed in chapter 2.Here you will learn the medical definition (or diagnosis) for
depression.Then information is
presented on the different types (or extremes) of depression.Unipolar depression involves a depressed
mood for at least two weeks or more and is the most common type of
depression.Bipolar depression involves
mood swings between elevated (manic) and depression.These people think they can conquer the world in their manic
phase and then be suicidal in their depressed state.Overeating, oversleeping, sensitivity to rejection, and chronic
depression are characteristics of atypical depressions that are considered
very difficult to treat.Dysthmia is a
chronic depressed mood that lasts for at least two years or more.Seasonal affective disorder affects many
people during winter months and totally disappears in the spring and
summer.A person having delusions or
hallucinations is experiencing psychotic depression and need immediate
treatment.Many women suffer
temporarily from postpartum depression.
A short questionnaire about your
troubled relationship is provided along with scoring information to assist you
in discovering if depression might be the core of the relationship
difficulties.I suggest using this test
with a grain of salt dont totally believe the results until they are
confirmed by a professional.
The next chapters (3-6) discuss
depressed partners (spouses), children, parents, and friendships.They walk you through the adapting to
depression steps and the guidelines for coping with depressed people.Good examples are given.
Constructive communication is the
subject of Chapter 7.I found the
guidelines given here to be the same as those for good listening habits.It was interesting to see the differences in
communicating with a depressed woman versus a depressed man.Asking for what you need to make a
relationship work and coping when your help is turned away are the topics for
chapters 8 and 9.Ideas presented here
should help you solve problems and accept the situation if the relationship
problems cant be solved due to the depression.
Ive personally witnessed
undiagnosed depressed people turn to alcohol or illegal drugs in an effort to
feel better.These problems are
discussed in chapter 10.Alcohol and illegal
drug use often must be treated before the depression can be properly
treated.This certainly makes treating
depression more difficult.
Unfortunately, suicide is often the
consequence of untreated depression.Learning to recognize the signs that the person is suicidal is essential
to preventing this tragic result.I
know of people contemplating suicide because their mental health treatment was
not successful.As a family member,
Ive experienced the suicide of a relative for whom no treatment seemed to
work.It was difficult for all to cope
with.I strongly suggest reading
chapter 11 carefully if you are currently aware of a family member, spouse, or
friend who may consider suicide.Your
intervention may prevent a tragedy.
The final chapters (12-14) discuss
both psychological and medical treatments for depression and provide
suggestions on finding help for that person.If the depressed person is a family member, it is sometimes possible for
you to get a court order to put that person into treatment (first hand experience).There are other suggestions given in this
Who Should Buy the Book? This is one of the better books Ive
read that teaches a person how to cope with someone elses depression.I strongly recommend it.However, if you suspect you are experiencing
depression, I suggest you find another book such as Understanding
Depression by J. Raymond DePaulo Jr., M.D. and Leslie Alan
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