A reissue of the 1998 edition, this expanded volume addresses some of the pertinent issues confronting those who have loved ones suffering from depression, focusing on understanding the nature of the disease and how it affects those around the depressed person, including valuable suggestions for coping with the very challenges that arise. The authors also include specifics on psychotherapy, drug therapies, resistant depression, depression and chronic illness and alternative therapies.
Considering the difficulty of this illness, only a physician can treat the affected patient, but for the layperson, there are many helpful suggestions for family members, focused on maintaining a healthy perspective while contributing to the successful treatment of the patient.
In the end, only the depressed person can know the intricacies of his disease, frequency, nature of the depression, modes of appropriate therapy, etc., that define his treatment. It falls to the supportive relative or friend to devise a life plan that enables a healthy relationship, supportive but not enabling, an ally, not a crutch, to develop positive habits and boundaries that serve the best interests of everyone involved.
In reading about depression, it is difficult not to be drawn into the focus on illness, rather than wellness, but it is imperative for the supportive relative to understand the nature of depression and its effects on the rest of the family. Putting aside blame, shame and the difficulty of living daily with depression, it is important to remember that each case is unique. An accurate diagnosis is critical, but the authors include a checklist of reasonable questions for anyone in doubt.
The usual suspects are addressed - types of depression, atypical depression, manic depression, occurrence in children, adolescents, adults and the elderly - but most helpful is a list of questions that facilitates the first step in getting help for yourself or a loved one: Have household routines been upset? Have you suffered financial reverses because of your depression? Have you neglected family members? Are your problems minimized by others? Do you feel trapped? Are you angry?
There are guidelines for protecting against burnout: education, support, journaling, preserving routines, keeping perspective and taking a break when necessary. All of the issues discussed are relevant, but this is essentially only a primer. Once you or someone you know is dealing with the disease, there is a great deal of information available from a variety of sources; no one book has the answer, as each case has its own characteristics.
One problem with this book is confusion over the authorís intentions, whether it is meant to help the depressed person or a family member, as the title suggests. However, if one is unsure and seeking information, this book is reader-friendly, filled with suggestions and supportive of both family member and patient. This isnít the definitive source for a complicated problem, but it is certainly a positive start for anyone looking for answers. Like preventive medicine, anything that contributes to the process of recovery and relief is welcome.