What impact does depression have on your family?
- Jennifer Baxt LMHC,LMFT, NCC, DCC
There are many situations and occurrences in life that can test the strength of a family unit, including environmental factors, physical factors, mental factors, biological factors and social factors. It could be one of these factors, or a combination of two or more, that affects either one or two individuals within the family unit or the entire family unit as a whole; whatever it is that impacts the family, it can have a huge impact on the families overall mental health. Each individual will react to a high level of stress in their own way, but how they handle the stress can have a direct impact on the other members of their family.
When depression hits the family, everyone in the unit can be affected in a negative way. Millions of people throughout North America suffer from different types of depression; some of them suffer a lighter form of depression and with help they and their family are able to cope and work with it, while others suffer from more severe forms of depression that can cause a family unit to fall apart. When an individual develops depression, their family can often sense that something is off; that the individual is not quite the same person as they use to be, especially if the family is a tight-knit family. The signs might not be as obvious as soon for families that are not as close as others, but the signs soon become apparent in just about any family when a person comes down with deep depression. The other members in the family will react to the persons depression in different ways to try and get that person out of their emotional rut, but family is not always able to help. Depending on the depression that the person has and how they choose to deal with it, the family could be adversely affected and the unit can fall apart. Rifts begin to grow into chasms, drawing each family member away from the unit they once knew. In too many cases, the persons depression only becomes worse, especially if they choose to avoid help, self-medicate and then take out their frustrations on their family. It is unfortunate, but many family units that were once strong and close have fallen apart as a result of one or more family members becoming severely depressed.
There are many reasons why one or more members of a relatively happy family unit can become depressed, including stress, financial instability, a death in the immediate family and so on. Severe depression in relatively unhappy and dysfunctional families has a fairly obvious cause. Whatever the cause of the depression, a family does not have to be torn up over it. Even some families that think they are fine could possibly benefit greatly from a visit with a family therapist or counselor. It takes work to keep strong family ties within a unit, as well as to maintain trust, openness, and honesty; a family therapist or counselor can help a family to remain strong enough to weather through lifes many trials. It doesnt always require a family to bring everyone into a family therapists office either. With online therapy, it is now possible for families to have sessions with an online family therapist in the comfort of their own home.