Contagious ‘depression’… The role of families is important for treatment

Depression is a common disease with a lifetime prevalence of 15-20%. Recently, the incidence of depression has been increasing due to the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) and various stresses in society. Fortunately, with early treatment of depression, 80 to 90% of patients can be cured within one year. However, there is a tendency for depressed patients not to actively seek treatment in Korea due to the unique rejection of the Department of Psychiatry in Korea.

According to a survey conducted by researchers at Kyunghee University, at least 80% of depressed patients tended to try to solve the problem on their own, without visiting a hospital or seeking professional help. However, if you simply try to overcome depression with drugs and will rather than professional treatment, your symptoms are highly likely to get worse.

In particular, since depression is so contagious between families that it is called a family contagious disease, if it is not actively treated, not only the depressed patient himself but also his family and people around him can be contagious and suffer greatly. The contagious nature of depression and its effects on the surrounding environment were explained in detail by Hyundo Kim (Onew Psychiatry Clinic), a counselor in the Department of Psychiatry at Hidak.

emotional contagiousness

In modern times, research on the social contagion phenomenon that individual emotions and behaviors also affect the behaviors and emotions of people around them is active due to the research of the brain circuit called the MNS (Mirror neuron system) and the development of brain imaging research technology. is being done.

This is called emotional contagion or emotional contagion. Emotional contagion refers to the phenomenon of unconsciously imitating and assimilating the actions, facial expressions, and voice postures of other people, especially those who are often seen up close.

According to a study presented in the book ‘Happiness is Connected’, co-authored by Professors Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler of Harvard University, Contagion is easier to understand. Studies have shown that when an individual is happy, there is a 15% chance that a friend around him will be happy, a 10% chance that a friend of that friend will be happy, and a 5.6% chance that a friend of a friend’s friend will be happy. Studies like the one above show that emotions are highly contagious and have a greater impact than you might think.

The transmission of depression is similar to the case above. Families are more likely to be emotionally contagious because they share a living environment and spend most of their time together. In addition, negative emotions such as happiness are more contagious than positive emotions, so if the patient is not treated quickly, transmission between family members can occur quickly, leading to a situation in which depression becomes the cause of depression.

Depression is a social problem

Depression has been established as a social problem to the extent that the term Corona Blue has been coined. Even as the number of single-person households increases and the number of family members decreases, it is becoming more difficult to recognize depression early and lead to professional treatment.

Depression in family members is even more problematic because it is not limited to the transmission of negative emotions. In particular, parental depression can adversely affect child rearing. Studies have shown that children of depressed parents are at higher risk of becoming obese, and are also more likely to develop depression in adulthood compared to children raised by nondepressed parents. In addition, depressed parents are very likely to abuse their children emotionally and physically.

The extreme choice with children, which has been repeatedly introduced in the media recently, is also the result of parents’ extreme depression, so if there is someone suffering from depression around you, you need quick help, such as actively recommending treatment.

What families with depression should do

Depressed patients often slander themselves and others with pessimistic stories and symptoms such as inherent depression and helplessness that they are experiencing. In addition, irregular eating and sleep patterns, emotional control failure, etc. may show behavior that is isolated from the surroundings. Therefore, the attention of family and acquaintances is very necessary.

However, most people with depression show a rejection of treatment or deny their symptoms of depression. This is because, while the patient wants empathy and treatment for his or her situation, the unconscious resistance of refusing treatment due to anger, etc. Therefore, in order to induce the patient to accept their situation and receive treatment, it is necessary not to judge or criticize the behavior of the patient, but to encourage and support their efforts to recover.

Help = Hidak Counseling Doctor Kim Hyun-do (Onew Psychiatric Clinic Specialist in Psychiatry)

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