Living with major depression: experiences from families' perspectives

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Scand J Caring Sci; 2009; 23; 309–316

Living with major depression: experiences from families' perspectives

The aim of this study was to describe the ways of living with major depression in families. Seven families with an adult member who suffered major depression participated, in all 18 participants. Data were collected from seven narrative group interviews, one with each family. A qualitative thematic content analysis was used and the text was coded according to its content and further interpreted into themes. Findings consist of five themes: ‘Being forced to relinquish control of everyday life’; during depression the family members lost their energy and could not manage everyday life. ‘Uncertainty and instability are affecting life’; everyday life in the families was unstable and emotions influenced the atmosphere. ‘Living on the edge of the community’: the families periodically lived in seclusion. ‘Everyday life becomes hard’; everyday life was demanding for everyone in the family and the responsibility shifted between family members. ‘Despite everything a way out can be found’; the families as a unit as well as individually had their own ways of coping and finding some kind of satisfaction within the bounds of possibility. The families' experiences were demanding. Children were aware of their parent's depression and were involved in managing everyday life and emotionally affected by the situation. This legitimates the need for nurses and other healthcare professionals to have a family's perspective on the whole situation and to include partners as well as children and take their experiences seriously when supporting and guiding a family. It is important to develop strategies which in particular include children in the planning, provision and receiving of care as well as unburden them with the responsibility. It is also important to support the family in their own coping strategies with a major depressive episode.

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