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Overcoming Reactive or Family Depression


Overcoming Reactive or Family Depression


Depression is a serious emotional condition that undesirably affects how a person thinks, feels and acts. Its hallmark symptom is sadness, but not necessarily. There are some who can smile and be depressed. It can cause you to feel miserable, even when nothing seems to be wrong in your life, though adverse life events can trigger “the blues,” It can also lead to a number of medical conditions and emotional issues, which may impact a person’s ability to function usually at home and in the work place.

Depression can be detrimental to relationships. It is therefore an emotional baggage, not only for the affected individual, but for his/her family as well. It is a “family matter,” particularly when “reactive depression” creeps into the family. It can be the worse complication that you would not pray for anyone to have. There are millions of families out there who are in the same boat. However, just as depression is treatable, so is reactive depression when it consumes a family.

The only reason it can impact your unit is when the symptoms are not recognized, the symptoms not properly assessed, and the condition not diagnosed and treated. There is no way out of depression, but through treatment. If you or a loved one is depressed, it is a must to seek professional help before more members are affected by it.  


Get to Know “The Intruder”

What is reactive depression? According to Patients Like Me, it is “a category of clinical depression that refers to an inappropriate state of depression… precipitated by events in the person’s life (to be distinguished from common grief) arising as a consequence of severe life events.” This “intruder” is an important family concern because you are all in it together. Psychology today expounds: “depression has a huge impact on families and families have a huge impact on depression.”


To overcome reactive depression in the family, understand its salient features:


  • Depression can spread in the family. Though it is not caused by virus or bacteria, “depression can be transmitted” socially from one family member to another. It sets up the scenarios, so that the members live a difficult life. This is how the reactive depression develops. The symptoms – sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, loss of interest in many things, lethargy, etc. – can be the same as the depressed member, weighing everyone down, physically and emotionally.


  • The spread can be imperceptible. “… just as individuals can be depressed, so can whole families, often without their awareness,” says Psychology Today. Caught in a web of negative emotions, the condition and its symptoms can creep slowly. Since treatment isn’t usually sought early, reactive depression can unnoticeably develop without discernment.


  • The symptoms can be different among the members. One reason why you may not notice the symptoms is because the manifestations can be individually unique. It cannot be helped that everyone can experience an increase in expectations, and therefore pressure. Yet, even among relatives, the way one responds to stress or pressure can be different. The symptoms can also be disguised, for instance, by a medical issue as a developing reaction to the triggers.


  • Depression can impact family interactions. Feeling miserable, insecure and downcast, depression saps the affected member’s energy and zeal for life. It also steals the family’s vigor and energy, dulling their capacity for activities and pleasure. Thus, when depression intrudes a home, a once happy household can transform into a black hole of unproductive feelings and physical distress.


  • Your family becomes vulnerable to a lot of emotional and physical issues. In an environment of negative feelings and increased responsibilities, you can be preyed upon by vicious emotions. Fear, physical weakness and illness, irritability – these are some forms of disguised symptoms that you may not readily associate with depression, especially if you are still in denial.


  • Depression can drain the family’s resources. Money and other forms of support are critical for a depressed member to feel better and functional. The family, which is supposed to be the main source of support, needs help too. This can become a vicious cycle that threatens to burn out and shatter the family. Just waiting for the depressed member to get better without treatment is imprudent. Treatment must be sought before the rest of the unit becomes overwhelmed by the symptoms of reactive depression.


The Vicious Cycle of Depression

 It is unfortunate, but a huge chunk of the depressed populace does not know that they are depressed. According to Medical Xpress, it is currently considered “… a leading cause of disability around the world, beating out diabetes, stroke and cancer in impact on quality of life.”

Nobody is spared from it. Young, hopeful children can have early episodes; those with depressed parents are at greater risk. They are also vulnerable to repeat episodes during their entire life.

Depressed teens can turn to risky behaviors and mature to become depressed adults. Family members succumbing to reactive depression and living their lives fearing that an episode can strike them anytime. This is the vicious cycle that you want to end. Without professional help, the outlook of depression is not good. Do not let hopelessness and helplessness overcome you. The key is not to feel intimidated or overwhelmed by family depression. If there is one smart thing that remains in your power, it is the power to embrace the simple truth that depression is a condition that must be treated.

Like a medical condition, the symptoms will never dissipate, if not treated. These will not be fleeting or slight. Seeking help is not something to be ashamed about. It is also not a sign of weakness. The symptoms will persist, impacting not only the depressed, but the whole family too! Do not wait for the condition to become complicated or for it to make life difficult for your loved ones. Consult a qualified professional for the symptoms to be assessed, so that a diagnosis can be made, and a treatment plan can be tailored to meet your or a loved one’s needs. This is the only way for the vicious cycle to be broken.


Don’t Let the Intruder In!

Depression is a real “thorn in the side!” So many families are struggling with it, as they support their loved ones and become exposed to the risk of developing reactive depression themselves. Because of the intricate relationships existing between family members, when a spouse is depressed, so is their marriage. Having a parent that is depressed can also have a weighty toll on the young ones. Ultimately, everyone has a higher risk for reactive depression.

Preventing the vicious cycle or the spread of depression from an affected member to another is of paramount importance. Keeping the family bond strong is critical to stop family depression. The key is not to let the intruder or depression to enter your abode. Seek proactive counseling from an experienced counselor/therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC. If depression has already gripped one member, contain it with therapy. Discuss your treatment options with a right-fit therapist that can meet your family’s special needs.

Overcoming family depression and preventing its spread is possible. Do not let the intruder take up residence in your home. Stop depression in its tracks. Take the first step, call CCS – Pinehurst now!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

Counties: Moore county, NC, Lee County, Hoke County, Chatham County

Areas: Pinehurst NC, West End NC, Taylortown NC, Seven Lakes NC, Eagle Springs NC, Jackson Springs NC, Foxfire NC, Candor NC, Norman NC, Ellerbe NC, Rockingham NC

Zip Codes: 27281, 27376, 28315, 28347, 28350, 28373, 28374, 28387, 28388, 28394

Kelly ErkenBrack, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 3+) Children, Teens, Adults, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Loss, Mood Disorders, Trauma, Adjustments and Life Transitions, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting, Relationship Concerns, Self Esteem
Insurance: BCBSTricare Prime/Select, Medicare and Cash
Credit Cards:  
Location: Pinehurst, NC

Robin Caswell, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 5+), Individuals, Adults, Anxiety, Depression, Grief, Loss, ADHD, ODD, Trauma/PTSD, LGBTQ, Self-Harm, Military Family Life, Mood Disorders, OCD, Phobias
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare and Cash
Credit Cards:  
Location: Pinehurst, NC

Counseling Information

How Do I Set Up my FIRST Appointment?

  • Call: 910-420-3600 (Fastest way to schedule)
  • Text: (910) 308-3291 (Reply will be via phone)
  • Click here and use our Contact Form (You must include your phone number, because replies will only be made by telephone to ensure security/privacy)
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  • Appointment scheduling for NEW clients: Mon-Fri 8:30am-5pm
  • Established/Standing Appointments are made directly with your therapist!
  • Referrals: MOST beneficiaries do NOT need a Referral!

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Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

45 Dowd Circle Suite 5
PinehurstNC 28374

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PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311