Is depression contagious?

 

A good question. Yes, depression can be contagious. Even though depression is  not a thing , like a cold or the flu with its  virus or a bacterium.  When a depressed person  sneezes in your face who has the flu or has a cold, you will not contract a depression. It just doesn’t happen that way.  But, instead you might  get a cold or catch a flu.   On the other hand, persons with depression create an environment which  presents a low mood  in their relational  environment. An employer who is controlling and moody,  can themselves create a negative and debilitating atmosphere.

On the other hand, it has been proven that those of us who  live or work with a person depressed,   might  begin to experience the same low moods  as the person depressed.  Let me explain. A few years go, two women wanted to start a Depressed Anonymous group for family members and friends of the depressed. The results of  their efforts is a group  called the  Dep-Anon Family Group.  When they started to write some of their feelings about their own life experiences with their  depressed family member,  they discovered they were feeling these same feelings as those of  the depressed family member.

Do  we remember our own  struggles with depression and how we wanted to isolate and  withdraw  from family members and our friends? We lived alone in the prison of our own making.

Depressed persons create their own atmosphere of depression.  This is where the family member begins to notice how their own mood begins to  mimic the depressed member. Let me quote from the Dep-Anon Family Group manual  in which our two founders of Dep-Anon share their own feelings of the contagious nature of depression  and how they experienced it.

“At a planning meeting for constructing a Dep-Anon group these two family members were asked to list all the feelings that they experience while living with a depressed loved one. From the discussion,  we were surprised to find out some amazing facts, 1) that the feelings family members were experiencing were very similar to those which their depressed loved ones were  also experiencing, and 2)  these feelings were also having an equally destructive effect in the lives of family memebrs.

When family memebrs were asked to prioritize, describe and list which feelings they experienced most often and most intensely, the following are those which  were  documented

  1. Feeling overwhelmed and burdened by a family member’s depression.
  2. Feeling restricted around the depressed, feelings of something similar to the expression of “walking on eggshells.”
  3. Feelings of helplessness.
  4. Anxiety about the situation and not knowing what to do about the feelings they were experiencing.
  5. Feeling emotionally drained.
  6. Feeling inadequate faced with loved one’s immobility and lack of motivation.
  7. Feeling anger and frustration at the depressed.
  8. Beng an enabler
  9. Feeling that one was living an unproductive life as one was stymied by the depressed’s unproductive depression.
  10. Having feelings of  irritability and impatience.
  11. Feeling inadequate.
  12. Unhappy.
  13. Feeling betrayed in retirement by spuse’s  late life depression.
  14. Indecisive
  15. Lack of confidence in oneself.

The amazing fact here is that these two women were having the same feelings as their own family who were depressed. It is ironic that as I went down the list of feelings the two members  were feeling, that   these were some of my own feelings when I was depressed. So Is depression contagious?  From what has been written here so far,  it is obvious to most of us that a loved one’s depression definitly has a negative  effect our our lives.

Dep-Anon can be a great source of help and hope, just as Al-Anon has been a great help and resource for the family members of an alcoholic.  I believe that Dep-Anon will be a good resource and fellowship to help family members and friends develop their own program,  based on the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps.

Dep-Anon  places its focus on creating a relationship with the depressed that is not only supportive, but also creates an environment where the whole family can find healing. Also, the Manual finds ways on how we can help our depressed family member find the necessary support so that a future relapse can be prevented. There are a number of routes that can be taken to ensure that this happens and we will discuss them in our Dep-Anon Manual .  We all have choices  and we  will be proactive in our own healing.

As one of the founders wrote about her own experience with her depressed husband , she tells us that now  “she is going to mind her own soul.” We might not be depressed, but we will still have the feelings of being helpless and without hope. That has changed now that we are  taking  care of ourselves using the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps in our own lives.

The program we have offered here is the personal hope of two persons,  believing that by taking care of themselves first of all, they will best be of great help to the depressed family member.

SOURCES:  Copyright(c) Dep-ANon Family Group.(1999) Depressed ANonymous Publicatins. Louisville. Ky. PagesA-G.

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisvile.KY.

 

How can I help the depressed? Join a Dep-Anon Family Group.

 

“One thing I’ve learned is that of all the horrendous problems we face in the world, what strikes me as the root cause of them all, and it is a myth: “I don’t have any power.” Mark DuBois, Director of Worldwise.

“Many times the desire to help the depressed pushes the helper deeper into the isolation of the depressed -mirroring the reality of the depressed person.”

Sometimes in our efforts to help the depressed significant other, we often forget that it is our own recovery that needs to be first considered. We need a fresh approach and we need a plan. We can now admit that we became angry because our depressed friend  didn’t recover according to our schedule of events for  their life. We might have even berated our depressed friend or family members that all they had to do was pick themselves up by their boot straps and all would be well. Now that our eyes have been opened and our minds have been enlightened we realize that we are learning new ways to take care of ourselves.

We want to be conscious of the ways that have neither helped or fixed our depressed significant other.   Because  our ways have not worked is no reason why we need to beat ourselves up over the past experiences which have done more harm possibly than good.

We might even begin to talk to our loved one about how we now are going to take care of ourselves. We  also might tell  how we are getting help for ourselves. We are doing what we have asked them to do so that they might get the help that they need.

Our recovery begins the minute we make the decision to turn our minds and our wills over to the care of God as we understood God.  ” ( Page 64, Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition).

We are learning that our own individual strength, our sanity if you will, comes from our active participation in the Dep-Anon Family Group where we are no longer alone, but instead find ourselves in touch with a healing  process of those much like ourselves. Instead of casting any blame at the depressed significant other we now are in the active process of discovering areas in our own  lives that need work. (The Dep-Anon Family Group, pages AR-AS.)

SOURCES:  Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Copyright(c) The Dep-Anon Family Group, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

 

A depressed person needs a supportive presence–not a sermon or critical lecture.

 

We have learned as it says in Appendix B of Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition, how “Many times the desire  to help the depressed pushes the helper deeper into the isolation of the depressed  – mirroring the reality of the depressed person.”

“One thing I’ve learned is that of all the horrendous problems we face in the world, what strikes me as the root cause of them all, and it is  a myth: “I don’t have any power.” Mark DuBois.

Sometimes in our efforts to help the family member or friend we often forget that it is our recovery that needs to be first considered. We need a fresh approach and we need a plan.  We can now admit that we became angry because of depressed friend didn’t recovery according to our schedule of events for their lives, We might  have berated our family member that all they had to do was pick themselves up by their bootstraps and all would be well. Now that our  eyes have been opened and our minds have been enlightened we realize that we are learning new ways to take care of ourselves.”

Dep-Anon Family Group. Pg.19.

It is true that what a loved one needs who is depressed is not a lot of lecturing on why he or she needs to get out of bed and to take care of themselves.  They also don’t need  pity.

I like to go to the family and friend guide for those who have a depressed loved one in their lives. This group, the Dep-Anon family group has some valuable thoughts on how to deal or not deal with the depressed person. In fact they wrote the program of recovery for those on the other side of the fence–namely the family member or friends of the depressed.

Let’s take a look at some of their thoughts on this subject, namely, how to help the depressed in the best possible way.

It is beginning to dawn on us that just as there are sure things the depressed needs to get them back on track  –so now our focus continues to be inside our selves, We begin to  admit that my own  need to control my depressed friend or family member provides me with a  sense of power and purpose for my life. The more I was willing to give and pity them –the more they were willing to be passive and receive.

We are learning that our individual strength, our sanity if you will, comes from our active participation in Dep-Anon where we are no longer alone but instead find ourselves in touch with the healing of those much like ourselves. Instead of casting any blame at them we now are in the active process of discovering  areas  in our lives that need work.

One of the issues that I might want to focus is that of self-pity. I need to quit feeling sorry for myself because all that I have tried in getting my family member back on their feet has seemingly been a failure.  At first we might have been encouraged by the fact that this or that new drug was supposed to do the trick —the miracle pill–that was supposed to remove all the darkness and provide the light for that loved one. And when that didn’t happen we began to feel a panicky feeling –we began to feel helpless and disappointed because then it came back on us again to make them well –to do something-anything. Also, I felt angry at times when things didn’t go good for my loved one. I  wanted so bad for them to begin the way that they once were. The way they are now is hard to accept. At times I am even angry at God for allowing all this sadness to be such a big part of our life. I find that any family group is a good place to share all those hurts with my newfound  fellowship group.

The courage to share with others that we didn’t have all the answers as to how and when a family member is to recover. We now admit that no matter how much we cajole, criticize and scold there still is no change.

AS Bill W., says “The  problem of resolving fear has two aspects. We shall have to try for all the freedom from fear that is possible for  us to attain. Then we shall need to find both the courage and the grace to deal constructively with whatever fear remains.” (ASBI,P. 61).

Finally, the words of Bill W., ring in our ears and hearts where he writes in the AA  Big Book, “We need not apologize to anyone for depending upon our creator. We have good reason to disbelieve those who think spirituality is the way of weakness. For us, it is the way of strength. In a letter Bill states that “we lose the fear of making decisions, great and small, as we realize that should our choice prove wrong we can, if we will, learn from the experience. Should our decision be the right one, we can thank God for giving us the courage and the grace that caused us so to act..

The verdict of the ages is that men of faith selfdom lack courage, They trust their God. So we never apologize for our belief in God. Instead we try to let him demonstrate, through us, what he can do.”

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SOURCEDep-Anon Family Group Manual: A 12 Step Support Group for Families and Friends of the Depressed.  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Is your soul getting what it wants?

 

Thanks to (c)Dep-Anon,   which is the name of the Depressed Anonymous  Family fellowship group, we can  find ways  to  give support  to  each other  whose lives  are intertwined  with  those  significant others  who are depressed. Our basic text makes use of the 12 Step principles of Recovery just  as does Depressed Anonymous, the basic text for those of us who are depressed.

Dep-Anon,  with its  thoughts of support  and  with a foundation of 12 Step spiritual principles are written by those persons who  have Family members and friends who are depressed. Their experiences speak and carry  great weight for those  of us who are desirous of learning how to live with understanding and serenity  in very trying circumstances.

A psychologist James Hillman stated that “Until the soul gets what it wants, it must fall ill again.”

For what does our soul yearn? Can you tell me? Can you tell me even what is this soul reality. Is it my personality? Is it my character. Is it me? Is it all of me?  And then, what is it that your soul yearns? Is there a “hole” in your soul that  is  continually filling up with sadness and despair?  In order to make a difference in our lives, day by day, is to reflect  on the Serenity Prayer (below) and make it one’s mantra  throughout our day.

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

“We treasure our “Serenity Prayer” because it brings new light to us that can dissipate our old and nearly fatal habit of fooling ourselves.

In the radiance of this prayer we see the defeat, rightly accepted, need be no disaster. We now know that we do not have to run away, nor ought we again try to overcome adversity by still another bulldozing power drive that can only push up obstacles before us faster than they can be taken down.” (ABSI. pg.20).

SOURCE:   Copyright(c) Dep-Anon Family Group Manual.    Pgs.33.

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“We  can only live now, and so we have to let go of past hurts and past resentments.”  Depressed Anonymous. p. 37.

Further  reflection points! See website MENU at the drop down Tools of Recovery site and check out The Serenity Prayer and Live in the Present.

Dep-Anon Family Support Group

 

Dep-Anon Family Group

When family members of a depressed loved  one were asked to prioritize, describe, and list which feelings they experienced most often and most intensely, the following are those which they documented:

  1. Feeling overwhelmed and burdened by a family member’s depression. 2) Feeling restricted around the depressed, feeling of something similar to the expression of “walking on eggshells.” 3) Feelings of helplessness 4) Anxiety about the situation and not knowing what to do about the feelings they were experiencing 5) Feeling emotionally drained 6)Feeling inadequate faced with a love one’s immobility and lack of motivation 7) Feeling anger and frustration at the depressed 8) Being an enabler 9) Feeling that one was living an unproductive life as one was stymied by the depressed   unproductive depression 10)  Having feelings of irrationality and impatience 11)  Feeling inadequate 12) Unhappy 13) Feeling betrayed in retirement by spouse’s late-life depression 14) Indecisive 15) Lack of confidence in oneself.

With the publishing and production of the 3rd edition of Depressed Anonymous the loved ones of the depressed will  not only  have a book written by the depressed, a fount of valuable information about the way the depressed live out their lives, but now with the DEP-ANON FAMILY GROUP GUIDE will have their own guide  with its suggested ways on how to relate to the  depressed family   members or friend. This DEP-ANON guide will, chapter by chapter outline a process whereby family members can understand depression and the various ways to cope with those who suffer from it.

DEP-ANON is also about how family members and friends of the depressed can find help and support. I believe now is a good time in the history of our Twelve Step fellowship to spend time refining and detailing strategies for helping family members and friends of the depressed.  In fact, the name chosen for this companion to Depressed Anonymous is DEP-ANON.  The  name and philosophy is much like AL-ANON, the support group for family and friends of the alcoholic.

DEP-ANON places its focus on creating a relationship with the depressed that is not only supportive, but also  creates an environment where the whole family can find healing. Also, we want to spend some time speaking about how we can help our depressed family member find the necessary support so that any future relapse can be prevented. There are a number of routes that can be taken to ensure that this happens and we will discuss them in the following pages . We hope that what you read here will not only be a help to you, but will help your  loved one recover and stay out of the prison of depression.”

SOURCE:   Copyright(c) Dep-Anon Family Group Manual. Pages 1-3

NOTE: .Comments about the  DEP-ANON recovery program will continue in  future blogs  at depressedanon.com.

 

Higher Thoughts for Down days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step Fellowship Groups.

May 15

  AFFIRMATION

I will forgive myself for my past faults, mistakes and live just for today and try not to be afraid.

“Even without using not forgiving as a way of controlling people, taking other people’s thoughtless slights and bad temper personally and vowing never to forgive them soon leads to loneliness….If you see forgiving as something you ought not do, then when you do something wrong, you must not forgive yourself.” (7)

CLARIFICATION IOF THOUGHT

Today, I am becoming more aware of how I cannot control life because life is so broad and expansive.  The area that I do control is quite small when compared to all areas of my life. To live means to let life happen and life is spontaneous. The more we try to control our relationships, our friends and what happens  to us we short circuit any serendipitous intervention into our life today by our Higher Power.

The best place for me to experience  life and the stories of others like myself is at Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings, Al-Anon meetings, Dep-Anon Family  Group  meetings, Depressed Anonymous meetings and the many other Twelve Step program meetings.

One of those absolute truths that live in every cell of our bodies when  we are depressed is that I can never forgive myself – nor anyone else for that matter. It is this absolute truth that we hold about ourselves that continually imprisons us in our depression.

MEDITATION

Just for today, we are going to really attempt to forgive ourselves for what happened to us yesterday and act as if today, the first day and only day of our lives, that I will be a new me. We are beginning life all over today. God, let your peace fill us now, and forever.”

Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky  Page 99.

SNAP OUT OF IT!

How often have you ever found yourself saying this, SNAP OUT OF IT!  to your loved one who is depressed?  Doesn’t work. Do you know why?

It doesn’t work because of the many symptoms that make up the painful experience of depression. Fatigue is a big part of depression. The emotional war going on inside of a depressed person depletes the vital energy from a person and as everything seems hopeless the body gets the message not to even try.  The depressed finally learns that motivation follows action. To get better, the depressed has to find a reason to get help. The understanding family is the best motivation.

Family members discover they  experience many of the same feelings as the depressed!  If you checked off more than  five of the items below , you might consider the DEP-ANON FAMILY GROUP.

When family members were asked to prioritize, describe and list which feelings they experienced most often and most intensely, the following are those which they documented, from most intense to less intense.

1) Feeling overwhelmed and burdened by a family member’s depression.2) Feeling restricted around the depressed, feelings of something similar to the expression of walking on egg shells.3) Feelings of helplessness. 4) Anxiety about the situation and not knowing what to do about the feelings they were experiencing. 5) Feeling emotionally drained. 6) Feeling inadequate, faced with a loved one’s immobility and lack of motivation.7) Feeling anger and frustration at the depressed. 8) Being an enabler. 9) Feeling that one was living an unproductive life as one was stymied by the  depressed   unproductive depression. 10) Having feelings of irritability and impatience.11) Feeling inadequate. 12) Unhappy. 13) Feeling betrayed in retirement by spouse’s late life depression. 14) Indecisive and lacking confidence in themselves.

ARE YOU SURPRISED TO LEARN THAT THE DEPRESSED EXPERIENCE THE SAME EMOTIONS?  YOU HAVE MORE IN COMMON THAT YOU THOUGHT!

SOURCE: (COPYRIGHT)  DEP-ANON FAMILY GROUP MANUAL: The 12 step support group for family and friends of the depressed.  DEPRESSED  ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS. LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY.

What is Dep-Anon Family Group?

DEP-ANON FAMILY GROUP

Support Group for family and friends of the depressed.

Scores of books have been written on the subject of depression. If you are like most of us, we have all run after and read the latest work on depression looking for clues to see just what is wrong with our loved ones and what it is that they face and struggle with.
DEP-ANON is a support group for family and friends of the depressed. This program is very much like AL-ANON where family members gather to help each other learn how to detach and cope with alcoholism. In the same way DEP-ANON is an effort of family and friends to gather together and learn how to live with and cope with their depressed loved one.
At a planning session for DEP-ANON, family members were asked to list all the feelings that they experience while living with a depressed loved one. From the discussion we were surprised to find out some amazing facts. 1) That the feelings family members were experiencing were very similar to those which their depressed loved ones were experiencing, and 2) these feelings were also having an equally destructive effect in the lives of family members. DEP-ANON FAMILY GROUP (1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville, KY.USA.
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More on this important subject tomorrow. Please let us know if this topic is of interest to you. We might be able to help you set up a Family Group in your locale or just use the material for your own guidance.