Are You Depressed?
Impact, Part Three of Four

by Dr. Dorree Lynn

Over 17 million adults suffer from depression annually. Think about the impact that has on family and loved ones. Their lives are affected and often seriously disrupted. The economic drain is huge. Ten years ago, the National Institute of Mental Health estimated the cost from $30-$44 billion. It is significantly higher today. The toll on the individual, the community, and society is staggering.

The very nature of depression can interfere with a person's ability or wish to get help. Depression saps energy and self-esteem and makes a person feel tired, worthless, helpless and hopeless. Sometimes a family or friend has to intervene as an individual can become so depressed they no longer have the ability to ask for help and must be taken for treatment. If an individual has suicidal thoughts, words or acts, help them seek professional help immediately. When a loved one is too depressed to move, the burden for getting help falls on family or friends, whether they like it or not. 

If you are around a deeply depressed person, you may be beset by your own confusing reactions. You may feel guilty because you are angry, impatient, and uncomprehending, not understanding why the depressed person doesn't get up and do something. A swift kick in the rear may seem the answer. You may even find yourself with your own unwelcome thoughts, wanting your friend or loved one to disappear or even die. At the very moment you want to be there for the person you care about, your own feelings are in a muddle. Your own life is now impacted. You may not know what to do or where to go for help, leading to more frustration, fear, concern and additional tasks that you really don't have time for. 

You should be aware that depression comes in many forms. Some episodes occur suddenly for no apparent reason. Some are triggered by a stressful experience. Some people have one episode in a lifetime, others recurrent episodes. Some people go up and down vacillating between manic and depressed periods. And, a little known fact, depression often occurs after a serious illness or in conjunction with being overmedicated. This is particularly true with our older population, so if you have older parents or friends who are depressed they may only be lonely and need some contact and/or activities, or just as likely, they may be suffering from an inappropriate medication dose or mix of pills. They cannot monitor themselves. If you love or are concerned about them, it is up to you help. 

The holidays are the most difficult time for those with a tendency towards depression. If you know someone who tends to get blue at this time of year, keep an eye on them and lend a helping hand. Your good deed may save much pain and suffering.

Depression can be treated. Next week, we will deal with what to do.

This column's for you,

Dorree Lynn, PH.D

Dr. Dorree Lynn, author of the forthcoming book Getting Sane Without Going Crazy, is a noted speaker, columnist, and practicing psychologist. Visit her at