For people suffering from depression, the advice is usually the same: Seek help.
That simple-sounding directive, however, is often difficult for those with depression to follow because one common symptom of the disease is denial or lack of awareness. This can be frustrating for well-meaning family and friendsand is one of the key ways that treating mental illness is different from treating other illnesses.
Research shows that almost 15 million American adults in any given year have a major depressive disorder. And six million Americans have another mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other psychotic disorders. Yet a full 50% of people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia don’t believe they are ill and resist seeking help. People with clinical depression resist treatment at similar rates, experts say.
You may have seen that seemingly ubiquitous TV commercial for the anti-depressant Cymbalta that repeatedly stresses that “depression hurts”not just the person who is sick but the people who love that person as well. (Even the dog looks sad.) It’s an ad, sure, but the sentiment is correct: People who live with a depressed person often become depressed themselves. And depression can have a terrible effect on relationships. It is a mental illness beyond just a depressed mood or situational sadness, in which a person is able to still enjoy life. Depression drains people of their interest in social connections. And it erases personality traits, taking away many of the very characteristics that made people love them in the first place.
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