Coping with depression requires one’s partner and family to understand the difference between depression and sadness.

Sadness usually refers to a sense of loss, grief or upset in response to an event typically recent in one’s life. While sadness can be intense, it usually runs its course as the person acclimatizes to the impact of the event or otherwise is able to change the conditions related to the event.

Depression however, is much more involved and may not even be brought about by a recent event. Depression may come and go without any apparent trigger. Depression is usually a more debilitating or overwhelming or engulfing sense of sorrow, grief or loss. Depression may not wane fully with time, but fluctuate in terms of intensity over time.

When there isn’t an obvious trigger, the depressed person and even those around him or her, may look to make sense of the depression by seeking to connect it to some recent event, although the connection involves quite a stretch in thinking to make work. This too can be crazy-making for the depressed person and loved ones.

Because sadness is more typically triggered by a recent life event, talking about the event and being soothed by self or other can help dissipate, manage or accommodate the feeling. This gives people the belief that depression, like sadness can be talked out of or that just doing something different will magically bring relief.

Depression is not something though to be talked out of. Depression is mostly lived with. Ironically though, people can learn strategies to make living with depression easier and then almost paradoxically, depression for many, eases.

While medication typically isn’t necessary for sadness, medication can form an important part of one’s treatment plan for depression. Medication can ease the lows that accompany depression to make life much more manageable.

Counseling for depression usually involves learning strategies to better cope and to address the critical thinking that often accompanies depression. Counseling can also address past traumas which may have historically given rise to today’s depression and counseling can help an individual set boundaries with regard to those who may contribute to bad feelings about oneself.

Very important and most often overlooked in treating depression is couple or family counseling. This counseling is more educational and provides loved ones with a better understanding of depression as well as strategies to better support the affected person. This in and of itself is invaluable to relationships which in turn helps ease the impact of depression on everyone.

If you or a loved one are challenged by depression, please seek help in the form of counseling and support. Life can be so much easier than coping alone.

Shame and embarrassment are powerful barriers to seeking such help, but once overcome, relief can be experienced.

I see so many people where one’s depression and/or anxiety is misunderstood thus creating greater conflict. Once understood, then partners can be more appropriately supportive of each other and conflict resolves. Whenever a person seeks counseling from me on matters of depression or anxiety, I rarely see the person alone. I always ask that they attend with their partner or nearest loved one.

Depression has huge impact on relationships and this in turn has huge impact on depression. Addressing both individual and relationship challenges provides the greatest relief.

Author's Bio: 

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
(905) 628-4847
Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America and was the first social worker to sit on the Ontario Board for Collaborative Family Law.