The Depressed Anonymous group and the Dep-Anon family group – a symbiotic relationship

The dictionary indicates that Symbiosis or symbiotic is the intimate living together of two kinds of organisms, especially if such associations are of mutual advantage. 2. A similar relationship of mutual interdependence.

The Depressed Anonymous fellowship and the Dep-Anon family group fellowship working separately while building families together. These two very essential recovery groups are symbiotic in that they are two kinds of organizations, especially associations of mutual advantage to each other.

Depressed Anonymous is a 12 Step support group for individuals depressed. Dep-Aon is a 12 Step recovery program for families and friends of the depressed. These two recovery groups have an important symbiotic relationship, as they both concern a family member. When one member grows strong, of either group, both groups are influenced in some way, either directly or indirectly by a member’s recovery efforts. A symbiotic relationship can create new healthy areas of relationship in both the Dep-Anon and the Depressed Anonymous fellowship. Our two fellowships will be equally advantaged by having as their central focus the spiritual principles of the Steps as well as the belief in a power greater than themselves.

As the Dep-Anon family group strengthens all the family members, the depressed also find support from their fellowship, Depressed Anonymous, which gradually releases them from the grip of despair and hopelessness. No more is the family concerned about their depressed loved one or try to fix or change their behaviors and thinking. They finally see that the best way for a person to change, especially the depressed is to take a “hands off” attitude while placing their attention on their own problems and begin to fix in themselves what needs to be fixed. The discovery that they cannot cure the depressed loved one, only learn how to cope with it, no longer criticizing the depressed or cajoling them. The family develops a new understanding of the nature of depression and by sharing, discovers their concerns at Dep-Anon meetings while discussing the power of the 12 steps together with their fellowship.

If the group members make the 12 Steps, the spiritual principles a big part of their daily lives and thinking, they will grow. They grow separately, but in the unity of each fellowship, they begin to manifest their strength by their serenity and their willingness to dig deeper into themselves, taking care of their own lives. Family members gather together to help each other and find peace and understanding what depression is all about. The depressed member helps the other members of their group begin to look at how their lives, with their mistaken beliefs about themselves, and how these thoughts and behaviors have kept them isolated from family and friends. The family finds that they have no access to the key that will free their family member out of their emotional and physical lockdown. I believe it is clear how the two groups are entwined together, not only by the fact of a family member’s depression, like the two sides of a coin, but by the fact that this is “family” and all wanting the best outcome for their loved one.

We propose that all those with whom we have a relationship, a sponsor, co-sponsor, or fellow members, encourage us to use the DA Workbook, either as members of the Dep-Anon family or Depressed Anonymous. We take a full look at ourselves and not others. As family members, we see that the only one that we can change is ourselves. To believe that is a lesson well learned.

By now, we realize that we are focused on our own recovery and that we are never alone. We learn who we are by being in the group and sharing our lives. The power of the group is experienced as we go through the Steps, learning not only how depression has crippled countless lives but continues to even threaten and take lives.

It becomes evident that the well-being and growth of either or both groups continue to emerge stronger by having a direct advantage by “by all of us staying in our own lane” and keeping the focus on our own recovery. We continue to learn that the group is our “miracle.” Not just for today, but every day forward.
Copyright@Hugh S.


  • Copyright(c) Dep-Anon is a 12 Step recovery program for families and friends of the depressed. (2021) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY
  • Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY

NOTE: Both of these publications can be ordered online at VISIT THE STORE at this site www.depessedanon.com

Today is all that I have

Simple enough. All I have is this 24 hour period staring me in the face.  What to do with it? Well, for one thing I am about ready to go to my work. A few people are there waiting for me to help them with various activities.  Each day is a little different. Each day I encounter various persons with various needs.  All of my encounters  starts with a greeting and a smile. You see, I spend most of my day interacting with persons who live in a nursing facility. I know most of them by name and so I spend a little bit of time sharing with them about the day ahead as well as how their day is going.  Because of their own response to their dementia of one kind or another, and living in the moment, they assure me with their smile that they are doing OK.

The amazing characteristic of dementia is that you live in the moment. The present, as the word can denote, is truly a present from God. This is the only place I can live–in the now. Yesterday is really gone forever–can’t bring it back  (only by memory as faulty as it may become)  and tomorrow isn’t  here yet. Obviously, the only place to live is here, now, today, these next 24 hours.

Am I living in the present or is my mind onto to something I have to do tonight? Or after lunch?  I think you get the message. My thought is that when I meet a friend (resident) in the nursing home I am going to be really present to them and  have all my attention focused on the person. It is going to be an I-Thou relationship. It is as only the person that I encounter is the only person with whom my entire attention is given.  And at that moment something special takes place–two people become as one–joined together in the communicating  of a true and present relationship. Both of us are now in each others presence — in the now –fully  being the loving  person that God desires all creation to be —aware that we are all together in this. Today is all I have to make this relationship grow, in this manner, in this time, with this person.

Our Relationship With Other People Improve: Promise #9 Of The Promises Of Depressed Anonymous

Why wouldn’t our relationships with  other people improve?  After we have begun to put into place our daily program of recovery, through prayer and meditation we now are expectant and hopeful. We reflect upon each Step, and we complete a piece of the structure that in time will be the new me. I think that one  of the more critical areas to mend in our lives is the thinking part of ourselves.  Depression appears to start with the way our minds react to and perceive events outside of ourselves.  So, from the start we need to promote to those persons depressed to get involved in as much physical activity as possible, namely., walk, express personal feelings to others, go to meetings, talk on the phone with supportive people, in other words, get connected as much as possible.  Most importantly we discover at our  group meetings that there are many persons, much like ourselves and at the same level of recovery. We know we are not alone.

One of the immutable truths, according to Dorothy Rowe, who wrote the mental health award winning book, Depression: The way out of your prison. is “that other people are such that I must fear, envy or hate them. ”  If we believe that we are bad and valueless then it follows that we must  fear other people because they can find out how bad we are and so reject us.

Once newcomers hear  the before and after of our lives it will make it easier for them to believe us when they  experience our own enthusiasm and cheerfulness.”

SOURCE: Copyright (c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. (Pages 46-47).


Here are some ideas about leaving the prison of depression that just might work for you. They worked for me.

I hope that the following ideas and cautions work as well for you as they do for me. I have paraphrased a few of the thoughts of Dr. Aquilino Polaino-Lorente, Chair of Psychopathology at the Complutense University of Madrid Spain.

1) He says that the more time that we spend in bed when depressed the more difficult will be the recovery; 2) Physical exercise or some kind of sport are ever useful on addressing the illness that one suffers from; 3) He/she should not stay at home watching television but must go out and walk down streets or go to the mall, and begin to take up those small things that made him/her feel happy;4) NOT talking to other people is not a good travel companion for this illness: he/she must retrieve the relationships and social relationships of his friendships; 5) He/she must try to have a full day, even if this amounts to various kinds of small activities.”

SOURCE: Dolentium Hominum. Is Depression Solely a Matter of Medical Intervention?

I especially feel that talking to other folks about the way we feel is really a good place to start. Our Depressed Anonymous group can build healthy relationships. The Depressed Anonymous group gets us out of our isolation and a group solidarity focusing on recovery promotes a persistent effort to learn and live multiple ways to feel differently. Even though the gains might appear small at first, they in fact have an accumulating effect for living life with hope and vigor.


Yes, what we believe about ourselves can and does make all the difference in the world. Yesterday we were sharing how certain people, places, situations and things have had power over our lives. Even those earlier and long forgotten relationships with significant others are still kicking around in our psyche’s.
As we continue to work through these relationships and attitudes about ourselves (less than) the following quote from our Depressed Anonymous Workbook says it best:
” We have given ourselves over to the belief that this growing feeling of helplessness is what must govern our lives, moods and behavior. We have given it license to run roughshod over every part of our life and over our relationships. Most people can’t see inside us and discover the pain that makes up every waking moment. For the most part we are able to hide how miserable we feel.” Depressed Anonymous Workbook, Step 2/ Page 12.
What power have you given over to others that you are willing to reclaim? And speaking of power–what Power greater than yourself are you able to turn to when you feel hopeless and helpless? And this power, has it been able to help you feel more in control of your life? Just some things to ponder today.


Sigmund Freud was once asked what people needed to be happy? The questioner no doubt expected a long, complicated answer reflecting Freud’s years of deep reflection on the matter. His simple response, however, was “arbeiten und lieben,” –work and love. Happy people feel connected to others at work and through their intimate relationships. When those connections are threatened, diminished, or broken, people suffer. Today, millions of Americans are suffering from what my colleague Charles Derber calls “double trouble.” Those in double trouble have neither meaningful work nor sustaining intimate ties. The withering of community life in both domains fosters a rootless and social disintegration that unquestionably contributes to the growth of emotional disorders.” Speaking of Sadness. David Karp. Page 178.

I believe that in the midst of the pain of depression I just wanted to pull the plug on life. I wanted to be alone. I just wanted people to keep their distance. I was not happy. I was unhappy at a job I began to hate. I do remember how hard it was even to lift up the phone to talk to a family member, an old friend or whoever intruded into my isolation. Truly I was suffering from “double trouble.”
But as the pain deepened I began to look for solutions–where was the key to unlock my depression. I found it in a fellowship, a 12 Step Recovery group. I was able to form intimate relations, work a program which was solution focused and then gradually get back into the light, into meaningful relationships. I also recovered the energy I needed to find a career that today (30 years later) still gives me joy and sustains my hope.


“Why wouldn’t our relationships with other people improve? After we have begun to put into place our daily program for recovery, namely through prayer and meditation we now are expectant and hopeful. We reflect upon each step, and we complete a piece of the structure that in time will be the new one.

I think that one of the more critical areas to mend our lives is the thinking part of ourselves. Depression appears to start with the way our minds react and perceive events outside of ourselves. So, from the start we need to promote to those persons depressed to get involved in as much physical activity as possible, namely, walk, express to others, go to DA meetings, talk on the phone with supportive people –in other words, get connected as much as possible. The point where we hope to enter into the life of the depressed is at the point of hope –be it at different stages of recovery.

…I believe that our involvement with other people like ourselves in the group gradually broadens our perspective in the area of hope. We learn to utilize new found tools that help us live with hope as well as enable us to learn that we have to be active in our own recovery.”