Depression Fallout: The Impact of Depression on Couples and What You Can Do to Preserve the Bond

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Overview

Using the vivid, poignant and personal stories of the members of a website support group she founded (www.depressionfallout.com), Anne Sheffield, the author of two highly acclaimed books on depression, provides an honest record of what happens to a love relationship once depression enters the picture, and offers solid advice on what the non–depressed partner can do to improve his or her own life and the relationship.

Of the millions of people who suffer from a depressive ...

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Depression Fallout

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Overview

Using the vivid, poignant and personal stories of the members of a website support group she founded (www.depressionfallout.com), Anne Sheffield, the author of two highly acclaimed books on depression, provides an honest record of what happens to a love relationship once depression enters the picture, and offers solid advice on what the non–depressed partner can do to improve his or her own life and the relationship.

Of the millions of people who suffer from a depressive illness, few suffer in solitude. They draw the people they love – spouses, parents, children, lovers, friends – into their illness. In her first book, How You Can Survive When They're Depressed, Anne Sheffield coined the phrase 'depression fallout' to describe the emotional toll on the depressive's family and close friends who are unaware of their own stressful reactions and needs. She outlined the five stages of depression fallout (confusion, self–doubt, demoralisation, anger, and the need to escape) and explained that these reactions are a natural result of living with a depressed person.

In her award-winning book, "How You Can Survive When They're Depressed, " Sheffield coined the phrase depression fallout to describe the emotional toll on the depressive's family and close friends. In this new book, Sheffield speaks specifically to people in love relationships with someone who is depressed to offer coping strategies.

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Editorial Reviews

Donald F. Klein
“I admire and recommend this inspired guide to the hell imposed by a partner’s depression and the coping strategies offered.”
Library Journal
Unlike many books on depression, this one is written for the spouse of a depressive rather than for the sufferer. Sheffield, the author of two other books on depression, draws on her own experience as a depressive, the latest research, and thousands of postings to a message board on her web site to offer coping strategies to get past feelings of confusion, guilt, frustration, and anger-which comprise what she calls "depression fallout." Although a bit dull, the writing is clear and free of excessive jargon. Those who know that they are suffering from depression or depression fallout will find it useful. However, as Sheffield herself points out, most depressives and their spouses do not recognize depression, so those who could most benefit from the book are unlikely to seek it out. Recommended only for larger collections.-David Leonhardt, Chesterville, Ont. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060009342
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/13/2003
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 201,864
  • Product dimensions: 7.96 (w) x 5.28 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Sheffield is the author of two well received books on depression, How You Can Survive When They're Depressed (Harmony, 1998) which won a a Books for a Better Life Award as well as the 1999 Ken Award from the New York City affiliate of National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and Sorrow's Web (Free Press, 2000) which deals with the topic of motherhood and depression. She has worked as a scientist at the Population and Development Program of the Battelle Memorial Institute and has run her own consulting firm. She lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Depression Fallout
The Impact of Depression on Couples and What You Can Do to Preserve the Bond

Chapter One

The Deadly Duo: Depression and Depression Fallout

Love and depression speak different languages. Every man and woman in a relationship touched by depression comes face to face with this unpleasant truth. Although each believes that he or she is living through a unique situation, the behavior of both parties conforms to a predictable pattern. One participant acts according to the dictates of his or her depression: Be critical, unpredictable, sullen, illogical, angry, touchy, put-upon, distant yet occasionally tender, and deny there is anything wrong with you. The other follows the rules governed by depression fallout: Be confused and bewildered, blame yourself for the relationship's problems, become thoroughly demoralized, then get angry and resentful, and, finally, yearn to escape.

Few people are well informed about the dynamics of depression and its companion, depression fallout, despite the unhappiness they cause. Ask most people to conjure up the image of someone who is depressed and they will envision a huddled figure sitting passively in the corner and murmuring about how sad he or she feels. No wonder, since most lists of depression's symptoms begin with "a persistent sad, 'empty,' or anxious mood," followed by "loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex." While these symptoms do describe how depression sufferers feel, they are not matched by the expected passive behavior. Indeed, the depressed often become unpleasantly aggressive, argumentative, and faultfinding without provocation. Thisdisconnect causes innumerable depression-clouded relationships to unravel and become mired in conflict and misunderstanding. When previously attentive, warm, demonstrative partners turn irritable, distant, and thoughtless, mates are unlikely to attribute the change to a psychiatric illness, even though they may have read about depression in the abstract. Instead, they jump to what seem to be more likely explanations: a waning of affection, dissatisfaction with the marriage or love affair, a clandestine liaison with somebody else, a selfish preoccupation with work, or a reluctance to share deep, dark secrets that concern both partners.

Since the true culprit is an illness that afflicts no less than nineteen million Americans at any given moment, why don't depressed partners speak up and explain what is going on in their minds and hearts? Surely anyone whose life has turned inexplicably gray and hopeless would choose to talk about it with his or her intimates, thus paving the way for answers and solutions. But that is not depression's way. Indeed, depression's most insidious trait is the ease with which it seduces its sufferers into blind alleys signposted Lousy Relationship, Bad Karma, Weak Character, Stress Overload, and other misleading names.

All those battered by depression fallout are convinced that their situation is unique and their reactions to it aberrant. Having enjoyed a gratifying and seemingly solid partnership beset by no more than the usual ups and downs, they find themselves living with an unwelcome stranger masquerading behind a familiar face. Not only does this newcomer no longer behave as expected, but he or she appears to have undergone a personality change for the worse. Tenderness and support have been traded in for grumpiness and irritability; sharing for secretive distance; patience and reason for volatility and antagonism; and good habits for bad ones. Threatening though this is, fall-out partners do not seek solace or advice from family and friends. Convinced that they are somehow responsible for the transformation, or that its explanation is perhaps embarrassing and best kept hidden from others, they guard their secret. This extracts a costly price.

Isolated in self-imposed solitary confinement, unable to coax explanations or apologies from their mates, fallout sufferers start shelving their lingering suspicions of personal responsibility and take to building protective ramparts in the form of negative reactions to and feelings for their partners. Loosening the knot of love, loyalty, and companionship formed over time takes a toll, and that toll is at least partially paid by fallout partners in guilty self-recriminations for being a "bad" or selfish person who can be counted on for support in good times but not in rocky ones. They indulge in tit-for-tat, parrying criticism with criticism, and although this temporarily relieves their feelings of frustration, it brings them no closer to an understanding of what is happening to the relationship.

The first gift the Message Board delivers to new arrivals is assurance that they are neither malcontents nor misfits. They quickly learn that even those Board posters whose partners have been diagnosed and are being treated for depression share the same problems and are subject to the identical negative thoughts. Even in the presence of such empathetic company, first-time Board visitors often lace their posts with "I know you won't believe this, but ... " or "He [or she] said the strangest thing to me ... " and are instantly welcomed and reassured that what they had thought unbelievable and strange is commonplace. When oldtimers respond like a well-rehearsed chorus -- "Oh, yes, we know, we've been there, too, and we understand" -- the dam of reticence gives way, allowing pent-up emotional turmoil to flow freely. In short, the single most important fact for a depression fallout sufferer to grasp and take to heart is that his or her particular brand of misery, far from being unique, is shared by a minimum of nineteen million others in the United States alone, and so are their far-from-aberrant emotional reactions.

Depression Fallout
The Impact of Depression on Couples and What You Can Do to Preserve the Bond
. Copyright © by Anne Sheffield. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Introduction xi
1 The Deadly Duo: Depression and Depression Fallout 1
2 Unraveling the Mind-Brain Mysteries of Depression 26
3 Overcoming Denial: The Art of Persuasion 56
4 Drawing a Line in the Sand 77
5 A Partnership Approach to Treatment 107
6 The Virtues of Being Selfish 143
7 I Love You, I Love You Not 170
8 Mending or Breaking the Bond 194
9 Life Beyond Depression Fallout 225
Appendix A Guide to Internet Resources on Depressive Illness 255
Selected Bibliography 261
Notes 263
Acknowledgments 271
Index 273
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2014

    If you are trying to justify leaving this is for you

    While i like the way this is written as it is easy to read, I do not like the way it tells you to cope. This book is wonderful in the fact that it does accurately describe how you depressed or bipolar spouse reacts and much of what is in here really hits home, one has to remember it is actually written by someone who has this disease.

    I find that it has a very negative spin and much of the focus and anecdotes ultimately slant toward accepting the fact that its ok to divorce your depressed partner. If this kind of validation is not what you are looking for, if you are looking for ways to get thru it and not feel alone and you really want to stay, this book can make you fell a little LESS alone but will also turn you off by its pro-divorce tone.

    I have also been on the message boards and it seems that those of us who choose to stay are very much in the minority and even the boards don't seem to really " get it"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2011

    Highly Recommend!

    This book is very helpful in understanding the mind of the depressed. It is full of ways of how to handle your depressed loved one and suggestions of how to approach the individual to seek help. In addition, it helps those "Fall Out" victims cope and handle their own emotions while living with someone depressed. I highly recommend this book! If you live with someone that is depressed, this book will read like a script from your life.

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A good read for the spouse of a depressed person

    If you are unfortunate enough to be in a relationship with a depressed person, this book is a great guide. Not only do you feel less alone by reading what you felt was your personal and unique struggle retold by various other stories, but you receive great tips and insight on how to be in a relationship with a depressed person. I would recommend it to anyone in that situation.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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