Thursday, August 24th 2017

Living with Depression

This week, Newsweek hit up a depression sufferer for her description of how to live with the mental anguish of the condition. The passage that really stands out in Leah Iannone’s story:

Most people would be shocked to learn I have suffered and still suffer from depression. I am friendly, kind, and generally happy, sort of a black-and-white thinker with a cheery disposition.

That is part of the disease.

You learn to act happy for the benefit of others because you feel guilty. My family and friends were always extremely supportive even when they didn’t understand. I couldn’t look at my parents because their faces showed their devastation, and although I wanted desperately to be with them, my pain was constant and often unbearable. I wished I could get better for my family, but it felt out of my control. My 20s were not what they should have been, and I missed a lot. I was a late bloomer in many of ways.

A behavioral take-away: the best way to deal with a depressed person in your family or in your life is to simply show up with patience and acceptance, without taking things personally. It’s easy, especially if you’re a parent, to take it as a personal failing if your child comes to you depressed. Sometimes the depression may be rooted in some action you have or haven’t done. Other times it’s not.

Taking responsibility for the happiness or unhappiness of another is an ego-laden mishap. A more centered approach to dealing with depression might involve a heightened sensitivity to your actions toward the depressed person, combined with a greater appreciation for the distinctiveness of their path compared to yours. It’s a difficult path to walk, especially when you see someone you love, suffering.

Also worth noting that Iannone says she found the greatest help from Light Therapy, which involves sitting in front of an artificial sun lamp for half an hour each day.

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One Comment on “Living with Depression”

  1. [...] not that depression in its own right kills relationships, suggests Wiveka Ramel (right) , a star Stanford psycholgist. [...]

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