Another dilemma of helping is related to the idea of contagious depression – that being around a depressed person can increase the likelihood of being depressed oneself. The theory is that the negative outlook, self-devaluation, and low energy level of the depressed person have a strong impact on our own worldviews. Depression becomes particularly contagious when the depressed person rejects your offers of support. If you are continually trying to help the depressed person feel better and she is repeatedly turning away your help, you are likely to feel ineffective, frustrated, and sad. In other words, you may begin to feel depressed. We have seen numerous family members of depressed people who report feeling “burned out”, “blue”, or “down in the dumps” when they are not able to alleviate the depression. In fact, a large impetus for writing this book was to help family members inoculate themselves against their loved one’s depression. Learning to help your loved one while simultaneously not falling prey to depression is a dilemma of helping a depressed person.
- pg. 152, When Someone You Love Is Depressed – Laura Rosen & Xavier Amador, ISBN 978-0-684-83407-8