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What is the Affect of Major Depressive Disorder on the Family?

written by: Malka M. Feast • edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick • updated: 10/24/2010

Major depressive disorder can have a negative impact on a person and his or her family members. If left untreated, the situation can only get worse. It's important to take a look at some of the causes, risk factors and treatments that are available for this disorder.

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    A person's major depressive disorder effect on family members can become an exasperating ordeal. Most people who are diagnosed with major depressive disorder have a difficult time getting family members and friends to understand what they are going through. This communication breakdown can become extremely frustrating to both the depressed individual and the family members who can't possibly understand what he or she is feeling. The person may have embedded problems that lie beneath the surface of just being sad all of the time. The worst statement that can be made to a victim of this disorder is "just snap out of it." This statement is not only non-supportive, but it will really make the person feel misunderstand. No one wants to deal with chronic depression.

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    Causes & Risk Factors Leading Up to Negative Effects on Family Members

    • The Deterioration of Personal Life - Many factors can be affected such as social life, work ethic, and personal hygiene.
    • The Deterioration of Family Life - Due to a lack of communication, a person may alienate themselves from the ones who love them simply because they cannot put into words what they are feeling or how to break the ice on this subject.
    • Lost of Interest in Family Oriented Activities - Fun times with the family seem like memories of the past due to a wall that has been placed between the person and his family members.
    • Loneliness - Loneliness comes from the person isolating themself from people because during depressed times they just want to be alone. This act is not healthy and will only make matters worse.
    • Constant Criticism on a Daily Basis - Getting complaints from family members will only make the person want to bottle the problems up and shut completely down.
    • Lack of Social Support - Lack of social support can lead to further isolation. Lack of support will also make the person feel worse about this illness and that can lead to fatal results.
    • Alcohol or Drug Abuse - Major depressive disorder can lead to a person trying to find a solution in the bottom of an alcohol bottle or getting high to make the problems go away.
    • Unhappy Children - The children of a parent suffering from this disorder may feel guilty or that they are the reason for their parent's illness.
    • Chronic Health Problems - In the mind of a depressed person are feelings of worthlessness and that there is no need to take care of health issues. They may simply be too depressed to noticed that they may be becoming unhealthy.
    • Family History of Depression - Depression is an illness that can be inherited. People who are suffering from depression should check their family history to see if depression presented itself in other family members.
    • Unemployment or Termination From a Job - Major depressive disorder can have a huge impact on your job security. The symptoms of this disorder can lead to work-related depression causing a drop in productivity leading to being terminated from their job.
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    Available Treatments

    • Anti-Depressant Medication - Anti-depressant medications are used to treat this disorder in combination with sessions with a psychiatrist or psychotherapist.
    • Psychotherapy
      • Cognitive Therapy - This therapy teaches the patient how to recognize and correct this warped thinking process.
      • Behavior Therapy - This therapy teaches the patient how the behave in a more effective manner when interacting with people, especially family members.
      • Interpersonal Therapy - This therapy teaches relationship skills that can be used to interact with family, friends and perfect strangers.
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    The best time to seek help for a patient and his family is in the early stages. Many times people neglect to get treatment during this time frame which makes the dilemma worsen and prolongs the treatment process. The importance of receiving counseling with the entire family will answer many questions that the family may have in which the patient is unable to explain. No family wants to stand by and watch their family member suffer from major depressive disorder. An intervention with a doctor is the first step in taking the right road to recovery.

    Major Depression & Family

    AAMFT Consumer Update Depression

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