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Depression-Not Just the Blues Feb 2012
Posted By Admin on February 02, 2012
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The following article was printed in the February 2012 edition of the Positive Community. Horizon NJ Health is proud to support New Jersey publications and community partners.


Dear Dr. Bonaparte



My brother lost his job and has been without permanent work for some time. He had been actively searching, but has stopped looking, stays by himself and seems depressed. Our family wants to help him, but we do not know how. Is this a common problem and do you have some suggestions for his depression?



Depression often causes people to feel isolated, which can be expressed in many ways. From time to time, all of us feel sad, but usually these feelings do not last more than a few days. Those who care about the person are also affected and in pain, since they want the best for their family member or friend. Your brother’s depression must be addressed and there are ways to help.


Be supportive. However, most friends and family members may not know what to do to help, other than caring. Encourage your brother to see his doctor. You may need to make the appointment for him. Go with him as a support. His doctor can check his physical health and, if indicated, refer him to a mental health professional, possibly a support group or a psychologist.


Help with Depression

Depression is common and serious, but it can be treated. Getting care for depression or mental health issues is not a procedure like having a broken leg placed in a cast and that ends the procedure until the cast is removed. Treatment for depression is a process of care. Treatment takes time and people with or without insurance may need ongoing care. Even those who are severely depressed can be treated with a variety of methods, such as medications, counseling and ongoing therapy.


Unfortunately, too many people with an illness like depression never seek treatment or medical care. When someone loses a job, that person’s depression can be deepened by feeling unable to provide for one’s self or one’s family. These practical and emotional hurdles can be difficult to overcome and can cause someone to feel or act depressed, unable to find a way out towards more healthy behaviors.


To help family members and friends:

  • Learn about depression and become familiar with the illness.
  • Encourage them to recognize they might need help.
  • Emphasize that depression is an illness.
  • A qualified behavioral specialist can help. They are not alone and care is available.
  • Listen, spend time and be there for them.
  • Be gentle and supportive. Include them in social gatherings. Go for a walk together, play a game, go shopping, visit and engage in activities.  Keep trying if at first they decline.
  • Remind them that depression can be lifted with treatment and time.


Difficult economic times are especially tough on those who have health issues and they may find themselves stressed out and without insurance. Compared to working people, unemployed individuals face an increase of psychological stress, are four times more likely to consider hurting themselves and twice as likely to use alcohol and/or drugs. (Lindstrom, M. (2005) Occupational Medicine 55(7):568-71.


One NAMI report found that someone unemployed for an entire year is 10 times more likely to feel depressed. This mental health problem can also decrease that a person’s chances of finding a new job by 70 percent. (Bjorndal  Claussen Hjort 1993). Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

47(1):14-8. “How can I help a friend or relative who is depressed?”


Be prepared. Make a plan and share it. For more information