Depression takes its toll not only on the patient, but on the patient's family.
If someone close to you is suffering from depression, you may feel isolated. In fact, depression is a remarkably prevalent disease. As many Canadians suffer from major depression as from other leading chronic conditions, according to the 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). As Statistics Canada’s The Daily reported, “Some 4 per cent of people interviewed in the survey reported having experienced symptoms or feelings associated with major depression, compared with 5 per cent with diabetes, 5 per cent with heart disease and 6 per cent with a thyroid condition.”
Why then is it so difficult to watch a family member suffer from depression? Part of the difficulty comes from the stigma of mental illnesses, particularly an illness that is often related to “the blues.” The cultural assumption is often that if people didn’t want to be depressed – if they would only get out of bed and do something – they would feel better.
But true depression is much more complex than that. The U.S.’s National Institute of Mental Health states on its website: “Depression is a serious medical condition. In contrast to the normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss, or passing mood states, clinical depression is persistent and can interfere significantly with an individual’s ability to function.” And being the partner of someone who is depressed and potentially starting to experience difficulty functioning through the daily stresses of every day life can be very difficult.