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The Price of Untreated Depression
For many, the stigma of depression or a mental illness is a deterrent to treatment; and it is disguised as not having the time or money to treat this illness, however, untreated depression can impact more than your mental health. There is a higher likelihood of problem drinking or substance abuse in individuals with untreated depression. According to the University of Pittsburgh, one fifth of heart patients also suffer from depression, and can be a precursor to cardiac illness.
Globally, as of 2011, over 121 million people suffer from depression. There is ongoing research to continually find more effective treatments for this illness. As a society, depression is everyone’s problem! The effects of untreated depression are far reaching. It results in substance and alcohol abuse - and broken families. It perpetuates generations of emotional suffering, and in some cases suicides and loss of the potential of these individuals. Everyone, at some point in their life will be affected by depression, either their own or someone they know; it is projected to be the second largest killer after heart disease according to research done by Murray and Fortinberry.
Depression does not occur in isolation, it affects the entire family and so it is helpful for all affected to have the support of couples or family therapy. Statistically, a relationship where a partner has depression is more likely to end in separation or divorce. Couples therapy can assist in the restoration of communication and injured feelings, which may have occurred as a result of depression. Psychotherapy can also reassure children that they are not to blame for the depression. Therapy can also give the children a forum in which they can speak about their experiences. Often parents in relationships with mental illness are so preoccupied with managing the illness they forget to pay attention to the smallest most innocent victims of this disease.
The partner of someone suffering from depression may also be struggling with the havoc depression can have on a relationship. As a partner, you can seek therapy to educate yourself on the illness. You can also monitor medication compliance, and provide encouragement when your partner is struggling to follow through with treatment, weather it is medication or therapy or both.
As you educate yourself about depression your interaction with the depressed person will be more reassuring and supportive. Letting them know that you care about them and that you are invested in their mental health wellness and stability.
Talk about feelings
Designate specific times to meet - as a family - to talk about issues and emotions that may be impacting the family unit as a whole. Communication is especially important in families with children, helping them understand - as much as is age appropriate - what they are experiencing; it helps to validate their observations and feelings that something is wrong. Through open honest and empathic communication, the entire family can build on helpful tools and modify those that may not be so helpful.
In those cases where psychotherapy is indicated, it is shown to induce and effect structural changes in the brain, which may have been earlier effected by childhood trauma. You don't have to live with depression, there is help and you are not alone. Remember all of us know someone suffering from depression. Stay tuned for upcoming depression educational workshops and support groups in June. Please email Sherry if you would like further information, or to be emailed with depression updates.
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