Depression and the Family
by distance counsellor Beth Mares RP

Ontario forest, soothing and therapeutic

Does depression run in your family? 

If so, all family members can be affected.

The effects will vary in severity and type, depending in part on what role one was required to fill in one's family of origin. 

Typically some family members are vulnerable to short term (reactive) depression, while others have some level of chronic depression or bipolar disorder; others may avoid depression by focusing outside the self, usually on work or on caring for others.

Most of the latter are considered successful and fortunate, and may never realize that something is missing. Some experience a reactive depression when they burn out, suffer a bereavement or severe disappointment, have a mid-life crisis, retire, or reach a long-sought goal.

Do you experience any of the following?

unstable or low self-esteem

lack of a sense of identity

overachieving but never feeling good enough

underachieving that suggests an unconscious fear of success

fear of asserting yourself

body image problems

obsessive dieting and/or excessive weight gain or loss

difficulty relaxing, having fun, and experiencing physical pleasure


frequent boredom, restlessness or lack of fulfilment

disappointment in close relationships

focusing on other people's needs and problems to the point of neglecting your own needs.

These traits are all common outcomes of growing up in a depression-prone family. (These problems are also experienced by adult children of alcoholics.) For information on psychotherapy for depression, depressive traits, and self-esteem issues, click on the link below.

--Beth Mares, Toronto psychotherapist

See also

Psychotherapy for depression, depressive traits, or self-esteem issues

Beth responds to a reader who is frustrated by her sister's depression.

Beth responds to a reader who has concerns about her depressed brother's psychotherapy.


Beth Mares, Clinical Member, Ontario Society of Psychotherapists, serving The Beaches,Toronto & Scarborough





Copyright © 1998 Beth Mares




Beth Mares Counselling

Office at Danforth near Beaches, Toronto


For cognitive therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT, cognitive-behavioural)