Depression: How One Disorder Became A Family Affair

Depression How One Disorder Became A Family Affair

1 in 10 Americans and 121 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression.

– by Luanne Rossi, LCSW / Talkspace Therapist

Depression usually affects more people than the individual it attacks. Family members of the person afflicted can experience a multitude of life changes, including financial difficulties, strained relationships within the family and unanticipated shifts in the overall dynamic. A lack of education about depression can cause close friends and family members to disassociate from the afflicted person, intensifying his or her feelings of loneliness.

“I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel alone.” – Robin Williams

When I was eight-years-old, I enjoyed spending my time like any other child that age: riding the bicycle, playing softball,and exploring the woods with my friends. Those experiences were then abruptly replaced by visits to the psychiatric ward to see my father.

My mother, who raised six children and was always a stay at home mom, had to hold down odd jobs for nearly two years just to keep our family afloat. My role suddenly shifted as well; I went from being the baby in the family to the babysitter of a tiny infant who basically took up residence in our home.

I felt as though my father had died and I was simply visiting a ghost who had taken over his body. He didn’t recognize who I was, because the shock treatments had taken away most of his memory. Thank goodness my father pulled through and was back in my life for a little more than ten years before he passed away from a massive heart attack; that was the second time I lost him – the first time was to depression.

As a teenager, I became interested in learning more about depression and mental illness in general. After all, my father overcame his illness and was reunited with his family thanks to the effort put in by the psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers that worked with him. Because I wanted to do the same for other people affected by depression, I decided to become a mental health professional.

I started graduate school when I was 23 years old – married with a baby on the way. Five years and three daughters later, I began my career as a mental health counselor working with children and adults, many of whom were suffering from depression. It stirred up a lot of my emotions – I could truly understand what they were going through, having been there myself. I am able to help and educate families about depression because of my own experiences with my father.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens

My mother always taught me to be kind and helpful towards others; to take the bad experiences I may have and turn them into something positive. That is exactly what I have done and continue to do as a mental health professional. The positive outcome that stems from being able to help families affected by depression is worth far more to me than the “almighty green dollar” ever could.

That’s why I have recently joined the team of therapists at Talkspace. I now have the opportunity to help people who may not be able to afford therapy or consistently make it their scheduled appointments. Interacting with my clients on a daily basis means I am able to guide them through their struggles in ways traditional face-to-face therapy does not.

I get to make a difference in the lives of people affected by depression.

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