The contagion of depression

Do you know someone with depression?  The likelihood is that you do – and if you are not one of the many people with depression, then you can be guaranteed that many of the people around you are suffering.

If you consider the statistics, one in five people have clinical level depression at some point in their lives.  Looking at it a different way, for every 100 people you know you would know twenty people with clinical level depression.

This is not to mention all of the others in your life who have more mild levels of depression, perhaps happening now and then, in response to particular circumstances or just at a level which they don’t think is significant.

This has a massive impact on individuals, families and the workplace – the cost to Australian businesses is $8 billion per year, with 61% of the cost burden arising from mild levels of depression. 

Then there is the massive social cost.  Consider the effect of a depression on families and friends.  One of the social consequences of depression is isolation and increasing social distance – which creates an even greater burden on people with depression and those closest to them.  The person with depression ‘withdraws’ from life.  Quite simply, the impact of depression cannot be overstated.

The age of first-onset of depression is rapidly coming down whilst the rate of reporting is going up – and by the time I have spent one hour treating a client with depression, another 20,000 people around the world are diagnosed with depression, many of these in their young 20’s.  How is it getting to be so bad?

Is depression contagious?  Based on the research, you would have to say a definite ‘yes’ – If  you consider depression in terms of its social, cognitive and behavioural elements, are we ‘training’ people, and in particular our children, to have depression?

Children learn by modelling the behaviours and relationships of those closest to them.  Children of depressed parents are at much greater risk – not because of ‘genetics’, but more from the ‘depressed behaviour’ models from which they learn.  If one parent is depressed, the chance of depression in the child increases by three times.  This doubles if both parents have depression.  Imagine if the only models of behaviour, relating and decision making as a child were from people processing their world through a depressed outlook?

If you have depression and want to protect your kids, the most important thing you can do is GET HELP.  There are proven, powerful treatments, including the use of strategic therapy ad hypnosis, to make significant gains to treat your depression.  Clients can benefit in the first session, and with a range of approaches we can use in the clinic as well as specific programs between sessions, significant benefits can be gained, regardless of how long the client has had the depression. 

Consider John (not his real name), who was depressed after a series of life events.  Typically with clients reporting depression, John had a strong sense of helplessness and hopelessness.  He was withdrawing from family and was listless in his interactions with others.  John had not received a formal ‘diagnosis’.  With one 90 minute treatment, John was able to break out of the hopelessness and helplessness by accessing many of his strengths that he was previously overlooking.  With a program of ongoing activities to build on the clinical work, John rapidly reported improvement in mood, sleep and his relationships.

In particular, he reported the quality of his relationships with his children had improved dramatically, and he found himself noticing his old moods and behaviours in his kids – which he was taking great pride in changing through positive role modelling.

Other clients need more support and longer treatment approaches, but most notice significant shifts in the first session.

So why suffer any longer?  Why let those you know and care about suffer?

If it is someone you know who is depressed –ask them if they are OK and encourage them to get help.  Particularly if they have children, whose risk of depression (and anxiety) is drastically increased, letting them know that depression can be treated can be the best gift you can offer them – or yourself.


Let’s do something to stop the contagion.

Live Well,