Everyone one feels sad from time to time. It’s a natural, human emotion. We feel sad at the loss of a loved one. We feel sad when we’re ill or if someone we love is hurting. Depression is not simply the state of feeling sad, however. According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, depression is a diagnosable medical condition with very specific symptoms and available treatments. Depression can last for a very long time, and it isn’t something that an individual can simply shake off or ignore. A person suffering from depression may find it difficult to hold down a job, care for their children or even find pleasure in the simple, everyday tasks they used to enjoy.
When someone we love experiences the effects of a disorder such as depression, we can feel helpless and overwhelmed when it comes to how we can help.
As it turns out, once your loved one has sought depression treatment, there are several ways in which family members can help.
One of the accepted treatments for depression is the use of medications. A few examples of medication include Prozac, Celexa, Paxil and Zoloft. Each of these medications may have certain side effects like headaches, sleeplessness or feeling agitated. If your loved one experiences these side effects after beginning medication for depression, they may not be in the frame of mind to realize that the medication is actually causing the symptoms. By monitoring and watching closely for these types of reactions, you may be in a position to help them work with their doctors to make sure the dosages are correct. It may even be necessary to try a different type of medication if the results are less than expected or the side effects are too bothersome.
A common issue with the use of medication for the treatment of depression is the fact that they work. After a few weeks, your loved one may feel better and mistakenly believe they are “cured.” They may stop taking their medication, believing wholeheartedly that they simply do not need them anymore. This can cause a problem on two obvious levels. The first is, of course, that the original symptoms of depression are likely to return. The second has to do with how one’s body adjusts to these medications. Rather than not taking the medication at all, your family member should work with their doctor to slowly reduce the dosage so their body can adjust to not taking the medication in the same way that it became accustomed to taking it.
When one member of the family is suffering from depression, it can affect the entire family unit as a whole. For instance, a husband may be affected by his wife’s depression due to a change in her sexual desire. He may wrongly believe that she is no longer attracted to him. Another symptom of depression comes in the form of angry outbursts which can adversely affect small children. On the other end of the spectrum, someone who suffers from depression may lose interest in pleasurable activities, like going to a park or watching their family play organized sports, which might cause family members to believe they no longer care about them.
Family therapy is a type of therapy where all members of the family unit participate for everyone’s benefit – not just the one suffering from depression. By getting a handle on what the true problem is, each member of the family can adjust and make progress toward the wellness of the one suffering.
Be Understanding and Supportive: Education Is Important
According to the American Psychological Association, uncertainly concerning any chronic illness is a normal fear. Regardless of the type of chronic illness, including depression, learning as much as you can about the disorder or disease can help to alleviate these fears. A few suggestions for learning more about your loved one’s condition include:
- Talking with a trusted professional medical provider to learn about depression on a broad scale
- Talking with your loved one’s medical provider to learn the specifics of their condition if they will allow you to do so (Confidentiality laws may require that your loved one sign a consent form for their doctor to talk with anyone about their medical condition.)
- Ask your loved one how they see your role in their treatment and recovery to learn how they would like you to help them the most
- Understand how their prescribed medications may affect them and their behavior
Being there for your family member while they undergo treatment for depression is an important task. If you or your medical provider feels that they need more intensive treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Axis to find out how we can help, particularly if your loved one has been abusing drugs or alcohol in attempt to overcome their disorder.