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Families and Depression Essay

Many factors can affect every individual in their day-to-day lives. In the domestic setup many factors may cause stress to different members of the family and during different situations and in different stages of their lives. Stress factors may vary from economic, social, religious or political factors. As a social unit, the family also experiences depression and stress. What was thought of before, as depression affecting only individuals is also true for families. This is the main thrust of Family Psychology.

Family depression is viewed by this branch of psychology as relational in nature and affects the family members. Depression may be brought about by the parents’ relational situation and causing stressed marital relationship. It may be due also to the stress in the parents and children’s domestic relationship and caused by distressed parents. Depression may affect any member of the family unit and this in turn causes stress to the whole family. Family depression disorder has a considerable impact not only to the immediate family members but also to the society that the family unit belongs to.

Depression may affect the individual members of the family in their day-to-day activities and routines causing major or minor disruption and affecting their productivity to society. Family psychology therefore deals with the identification and treatment of stress and disorders that may affect the family unit as a whole. Many forms of family disorders have already been identified. Many treatment methods have been developed to address disorders affecting the family. This is the main focus of marriage counseling and family group therapy sessions. Though different intervention methods are adapted since cases vary from one family to another.

Treatment provided to parents differs from treatment methods provided to children and as well during group therapies involving the parents and children alike. Stress disorder prevalent in families is serious and should be addressed accordingly and appropriately. Marital Distress and Depression Depression is a common type of mood disorder. This is also called as clinical depression or major depression or unipolar depression. Depression can hinder the normal development and adjustment of young individuals or anyone who had his type of mood disorder. It is a normal reaction of teenagers in a distressing situation.

It is a chronic, persistent and usually a familial disease that mostly occurs during childhood or adolescent stage. A person can be sad, but depression can be described as constant boredom, or irritable mood and complexity with familial association, work and school. Depression affects the normal growth and development, performance in the school, and the relationship with their relatives and friends and this could lead into a serious problem. One of the types of depressive disorder, which is the major depressive disorder, is the leading cause of suicide cases especially in youth population (Bhatia & Bhatia, 2007).

On the familial aspect, depression can be predicted following marital conflict and adversities in family life. Depression also affects the quality of marital relationship (Whiffen, 2005). Depression is caused by a combination of physiological factor and socio-psychological factor. It affects more women than men. It comprises 20% of total population of women and 10% in men. Women are more susceptible to depression because there are studies that prove that hormonal imbalances triggers depression, and this usually occurs during or after pregnancy.

The most common age of affected individuals is between 25 – 44 years old. The percentage of individuals recovering from major depressive disorder is more than half of its population. The remaining individuals that have not recovered may experience additional depressive episodes. Causes of depression are divided into two major groups, which are the physiological factor and the sociopsychological factor. The first of these two groups is the physiological factors, which includes family histories or genetic factors, hormonal imbalances, other medical conditions, food intake, and quality of sleep.

Genetics has a significant role in depression. Individuals that have familial history of depression have a high tendency of developing it especially when both parents suffer from depression compared to those who have only one parent that is affected with depression. According to some studies, women are more prone to depression because menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause affect the level of their hormones. Food intake is also a contributing factor in the development of clinical depression. Some studies show that lower levels of intake of omega 3 fatty acids and magnesium cause depression.

Sleep quality is usually correlated with major depressive disorder. Poor sleeping pattern could affect some parts of the brain that leads into the abnormal production of some chemicals in the brain that aggravates poor sleeping quality and worsen the depression of an individual (Brent & Birmaher, 2002). The second group is the sociopsychological factor. This includes psychological factors and life experiences. Psychological factors like failure to recognize personal achievements, very low self esteem, negative outlook in life, distorted insight of others view contributes to the development of depression.

Another contributing factor is the life experiences. These may includes grief, rejection from a love one or from the society, emotional or physical abuse, poverty, unemployment, financial problems and job loss are some of life experiences that triggers the development of depression of a person (Brent & Birmaher, 2002). Depression on the part of parents is linked with different causative factors such as marital conflict and breakdown, stresses in family life, low SES and lack of consistency or unity.

Chronic depression of mother and daughter’s depressive symptoms pointed out that is caused by marital problems whereas the outcome of the externalizing behaviors of daughter’s is caused by low family intimacy. Depression also affects the parenting skills of a person. Depressed mothers tend to be less effective in taking care of their own child. They also have short period of time of interaction or low quality interactions, which have negative effects on their children (Whiffen, 2005).

Researchers also hypothesized that child’s emotional attachment to their mother can mediate the effects of maternal depression but on the contrary, children with the age of eighteen to forty two months old with secured attachment are at high risk of having emotional problems by the age of six years old (Whiffen, 2005). Studies regarding the contribution of marital strain to depression revealed that it affects more of the women’s population. Marital strain is the feeling of rejection by the spouse, frustrations with the expected role in the family and less reciprocity in their relationship.

Distressed women have low self-confidence, which is linked with the increased risk for depression. A woman’s self confidence is invested in their interpersonal relationship than with men. They prefer to be “self – silencing “ especially if the situation might ruin their relationship. This approach is for short-term solution only thus resulting to a more complicated condition such as depression (Whiffen, 2005). Sensitivity to the relationship can be attributed to negative childhood experiences such as childhood sexual abuse.

Women with childhood sexual abuse experience tend to hold and have a good quality relationship and are at risk in developing depressive symptoms when they have low quality relationship than those women without a traumatic or distressing experience (Whiffen, 2005). Negative outcome or high risk of developing depression on their children due to maternal depression would be lessen if there is enough moral support from their father. Studies revealed that paternal depression has no direct contribution in the development of mood disorder in children. But it had an indirect impact on the mother’s mood.

Researchers found a supporting theory that paternal psychopathology affects the adolescents internalizing and externalizing problems (Whiffen, 2005). Studies also revealed that married men that are not depressed but have marital problems are having a higher risk of developing depression in the near future than those men that have not experience any marital problems or depression (Whiffen, 2005). Depression not only affects adult population but also young individuals. There are several kinds of depression affecting the children and adolescents. These are major depression, bipolar disorder, and dysthymia.

Major depression is a health condition describe as experiencing a very sad mood that usually last for a long period of time. The child may also feel low self-esteem and guilty feelings due to feelings of worthlessness. This usually interferes with normal activities of the child and may include eating and sleeping disorders that they may experience. Young individuals that have depressive disorder such as major depression may illustrate headaches, aches and pain or stomachaches. The depressive feelings experienced usually last the whole day. Bipolar disorder, however, is characterized with extreme feelings evident in the child.

It may consist of a very low energy feeling of depression, which are usually sadness and hopelessness and high-energy mania, which may include extreme irritability and temper tantrums. Bipolar Disorder usually manifests itself during the late teens age of the child. Dysthymia is characterized by sadness, though not very severe, that last and linger for a year or longer. It may cause eating and sleeping problems but usually sadness experienced by the child is not as sever as Major Depression and does not interfere with the child’s day – to – day activities (B. et al. , 1996).

Children must exhibit five or more than five of the following symptoms in two weeks time to be diagnosed as having depression: feeling of guilt or insignificance, lack of energy or inability to perform simple tasks, concentration problem, withdrawn from relatives or friends, unable to care for the outcome or their future, feeling of extreme sadness for no reason, constant thoughts of deaths or suicide, loss of interest in things that are usually pleasurable for them, irritable feeling, anger or anxiety, sleeping problems, somatic pains, psychomotor retardation or agitation, poor communication, reckless behavior, substance or alcohol abuse, and poor performance in school or frequent absences in school (B. et al. , 1996). Treatment for Depression There are several ways to treat major depression. This includes interpersonal therapy (IPT); cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT); psychoanalytically oriented therapy; antidepressant therapy (medical therapy) and marital or family therapy. Although there’s a lot more way of treating this condition and the mentioned approaches are the most commonly used therapy.

In the interpersonal therapy, the treatment focuses on development or enhancement of the interpersonal skills of a person. In this program, it helps out the person to understand the nature of his condition or his depression. This is only a short psychotherapy program that last only for 12 – 16 weeks. Another approach is the psychoanalytically oriented therapy, were it focuses more on the causes of the illness or depression. The goal of this approach is to change the person’s insight and behavior. This is the most expensive and intensive among all of the psychotherapies because it last for several years. Another is the cognitive behavioral therapy, which is another promising treatment for major depressive disorder.

This program help the person develops a good insight or positive view in life. The antidepressant therapy has an effective and positive outcome although it is much more expensive compared to the therapies. But according to some studies, there is much more positive outcome when the combination of behavioral and antidepressant were given to a clinically depressed patient (Bylund & Reed, 2007). Marital or family therapy especially the behavioral marital therapy can be considered as a beneficial approach in improving or decreasing the symptoms of depression compared to the individual therapy. Family therapy has a significant effect when a family is in a distressing situation or condition.

There are two kinds of approach used in martially distressed women namely the behavioral marital therapy and cognitive therapy. Both are equal with regards to their efficacy but behavioral marital therapy is more effective in mediating the women’s marital distress than the cognitive therapy (Keitner, 2005). Conclusion Stress and depression is not experienced only by the individual but also by the basic unit of our society, the family. Stress in marriage may cause psychological impact on one or both of the parents and is manifested as any forms of depression. A depressed family member will have a considerable impact on the family unit and most often causing stress in the relational conditions within the family members.

Many procedures have been developed by different Family Psychologists in addressing problems and disorders affecting the psychological health of the family unit. Identification of the type of disorder and finding an appropriate treatment method is essential to addressing this type of disorder. Different approach and different intervention methods were designed to address different situations of family depression. Duration of treatment process is dependent on the particular nature of the depression that needs to be addressed. There are many suggested procedures and treatment strategies and interventions that are already used and being studied.

Research and studies are still being conducted to find other effective means and methods of addressing family depression. Depression and disorder does not only affect the individual but the family structure as a whole and if not addressed immediately may very well affect also the community that they belong. References B. , B. , ND. , R. , DE. , W. , DA. , B. , J. , K. , RE. , D. , et al. (1996). Childhood and adolescent depression: a review of the past 10 years. Part I. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 35(11), 1427-1439. Bhatia, S. K. , & Bhatia, S. C. (2007). Childhood and Adolescent Depression. American Family Physician, 75(1), 73-80. Brent, D. A. , & Birmaher, B. (2002). Adolescent Depression.

The New England Journal of Medicine, 347(9), 667-671. Bylund, D. B. , & Reed, A. L. (2007). Childhood and adolescent depression: Why do children and adults respond differently to antidepressant drugs? . Neurochemistry International, 51(5), 246-253. Keitner, G. I. (2005). Family Therapy in the Treatment of Depression [Electronic Version]. Psychiatric Times 22 from http://www. psychiatrictimes. com/showArticle. jhtml? articleID=172900853. Whiffen, V. E. (2005). Disentangling Causality in the Assocaitions Between Couple and Family Processes and Depression. In W. M. Pinsof & J. L. Lebow (Eds. ), Family Psychology: The Art of the Science (pp. 373-395). New York: Oxford University Press, Inc. .


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