12-07 Thriving with depression – Growing understanding and healing within a family during depression

Posted in Emotions, Family, Mental Health, Relationships, Substance Abuse

Thriving with depression – Growing understanding and healing within a family during depression

William Beardslee, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, considers depression a “family calamity,” as quoted by Joanne Silberner of NPR in the article titled “When Treating Depression, Entire Family Called On.” Nearly 16 million children live with an adult that experiences major depression each year, according to the National Academy of Sciences. The same organization finds higher risks of depression and substance abuse among children of depressed parents.

In an article written by Katherine Kam, medically reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D., and published on WebMD, Myrna Weissman, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology and psychiatry at Columbia University, confirms that depression very much runs in the family. Weissman has studied three generations of families dealing with depression. Specifically, she found children of depressed parents three times more likely to have the mental illness compared to kids of mentally health adults.

Families with depression need solutions and Peter Ashenden, head of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, has one particular strategy in mind.

“What we’ve found works well is participant support groups,” said Ashenden. “People get to meet other individuals with the same or similar experiences.” This builds a community of support.

Most insurance plans cover family therapy, informs Julie Totten, head of Families for Depression Awareness, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping depression and bipolar patients and their families to prevent suicide or other tragedies. The group also provides screening tools for depression, informative brochures, workshops and seminars to help families.

Despite insurance coverage, Totten finds a deficit in family-oriented depression treatment among mental health professionals.

“It’s not something that medical professionals often talk about as an option,” she said. “That’s how our medical system is set up, to treat the patient and not the family.”

Another roadblock to depression treatment of family, Totten said, is stigma. She finds it uncommon for people to turn to their peers and say “My mother has depression.”

The stigma is so real that Ashenden claims that many people calling his organization do so with a tremble in their voice and fear in their hearts.

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy is also concerned with the stigma, especially since depression of a family member often means withdrawal from emotional connectedness and familial activities.

The Depression Treatment Centers of California works to reduce stigma and provide numerous therapy options to patients, including family therapy. Depression treatment facilities California, or, more specifically, depression rehab centers in Los Angeles can provide these routes of healing for many mental illnesses. Call us today for a referral.


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