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What to Do When Someone You Love is Depressed

by Mitch Golant, Ph.D., and Susan K. Golant

Review by Bill Zaccagnino and Harriet Baldwin, NAMI Literature Committee
Apr 1999

Mitch and Susan K. Golant's What to Do When Someone You Love is Depressed is excellent for families who are newly dealing with loved ones with clinical depression. The Golants also provide insight into the "blues," which are distinguished from clinical depression. This book can answer many of the questions asked by families in the moments of distress as they first watch their loved one struggle with depression.

The Golants' book is organized around two points, "Understanding Depression" and "What to Do." Appendices include resources, helpful organizations, a glossary, and a bibliography. The information is made more real by Dr. Golant's illustrating his points with examples from his own life—his mother suffered from clinical depression—and examples from his practice.

In the first section, the Golants speak to the emotions a family goes through and the myths associated with depression and other mental illnesses and provide very helpful information on the signs of depression, the causes, and the types of depression manifested in different age groups. Just as important is their information about the effects and stresses on the family that must accept a member’s depression.

In the second section, the longer of the two, the Golants provide useful advice on how to deal with depression in the family. The authors are helpful about how to express feelings to the loved one, encourage him or her, and resolve conflicts. A long chapter on therapies and treatments offers the encouragement that treatments are highly effective and stresses the need to get the family member into treatment. Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, drug therapies (drugs correct neurochemical imbalances), and ECT are explained, along with other suggestions about such things as exercise and nutritious food. There is also help with how to find a good therapist and what to expect from hospitalization. A brief discussion about insurance raises the issue of parity, and a later chapter warns about suicide.

The Golants recognize the struggle of dealing with a loved one with depression; but with the information they provide, the family can better understand the illness, better cope with it, and provide better support to its loved one. What to Do When Someone You Love is Depressed is recommended as an introduction for the family new to dealing with depression.

What to Do When Someone You Love is Depressed by Mitch Golant, Ph.D., and Susan K. Golant. Henry Holt, 1996. 207 pages.