Depression is a debilitating disease and its effects are not restricted to the individual suffering with it. In this Sharepost I touch on three specific areas that repeatedly appear in any documentation about depression: work, family and relationships.
Work. People with a major depressive episode are five times more likely to miss work than people experiencing other physical symptoms. One study found that 11 disability days in the previous three months were as a result of depression. Even people who do force themselves to work are likely to have a diminished level or quality of performance.
Family. Several studies have been undertaken that look at the effect of parents with depression. There is almost universal recognition that children of a depressed mother are at risk of developing depression themselves. The main problem seems to hinge on the difficulty a depressed mother has in consistently providing a responsive, warm and supportive relationship with their children. In fact depressed mothers tend to be more critical and uninvolved. Despite this, depressed mothers frequently yearn to be good mothers. However, the sheer energy draining effect of depression depletes any reserves, so it is hardly surprising an effect is felt by the children.
Marriage. Depression and marriage can be something of a two way process. It is quite possible for a bad marriage to cause depression, or for depression to affect a marriage. As much as depression is an unwanted and difficult disease, it is not easy living with a depressed person. During their depression the person frequently feels withdrawn, irritable, unloved and useless. The effect on their partner, who may not even recognize or understand the nature of depression, is often negative. Partners frequently worry this is a sign of marriage failure. They are disappointed that encouragement fails, they feel worried, they become irritated by their partner's irritation and so on.
When we see the incidence of depression, the effects it has on the individual and the things around them, it is a little surprising to see how slowly the official response to this disease has been. In a previous Sharepost I mentioned that, if unchecked, depression will top the table of diseases within 20 years. Let's hope topping this particular league table can be avoided.