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242 of 246 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2001
There are a zillion books out there about depression, and I'd bet nearly all of them are being bought by people who are desperately trying to help someone they love. "Here Honey, it says if you eat right..." and "Sweetie, they say exercise can do a lot of good..." and "Mom, there are a lot of medicines now that could help you..."
People who love a depressed person spend an enormous amount of energy trying to bridge a chasm to bring help to their loved one. Meanwhile they suffer isolation, rejection, critisism, self-doubt, frustration, and terrible worry and stress. Worse, every book they read urges them to put all their needs aside, to lower their standards to rock bottom, to be continually more understanding of their loved-ones limitations. Often they're not even mentioned at all.
Anne Sheffield's book is a fantastic support and relief for these caregivers. She acknowleges the toll this illness takes on family members, and she offers them compassion and a sense of community. By respecting their frustration, she helps open the door to a more constructive sort of understanding of depressive illness and how it affects the family.
This book has helped me build a life with my depressed partner that is healthy for us both, a place where I can deal with this illness without giving up my happiness. It has helped me trust my instincts, set boundaries, campaign for change and keep my love alive even when I'm angry. Through me, it has helped my partner seek better medical help, treat the family better and feel more secure that we'll still be there tomorrow.
If your hunt for answers has left you feeling like you're out in the cold alone, this book is for you.
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 1998
Run, don't walk, to get a copy of Anne Sheffield's book "How You Can Survive When They're Depressed: Living and Coping with Depression Fallout." Sheffield offers insights, suggestions, and information that will help you immediately -- from how to ensure that the person you love gets the best possible care to protecting yourself from the debilitating effects the illness has on you, the loved one or caregiver. I now keep this book at my bedside and read it again and again. It has become my "handbook" for coping, and I've sent it to a number of friends who can't thank me enough. Why? Because Sheffield addresses the profoundly disruptive nature of depression and manic-depression, both as they affect the sufferer and the sufferer's family, friends and loved ones. She covers virtually every aspect of the problems faced my loved ones of someone with a depressive illness.
Despite the fact that those of us dealing with this illness on a day-by-day basis are often exhausted, heartbroken, demoralized, resentful, and angry, Sheffield's book gives hope in the form of clear and incisive information, insight and advice. And all this she does with admirable and welcome good humor, compassion, intelligence and grace.
Sheffield knows whereof she speaks, having grown up with a depressive mother. She has done her research well, spending countless hours with other family and friends of people suffering from mood disorders. Their stories will sound familiar to you; their descriptions of solutions and coping skills will be invaluable.
Sheffield addresses the symptoms of depression and manic-depression and provides information on medications, side effects, and how to find the best possible medical help for a loved one. This alone is a real service to family members and loved ones, but Sheffield goes one giant step further by providing advice and techniques on taking care of yourself, something I have not yet encountered in any other book on this subject.
This book is an invaluab! le resource. Not only is it filled with important and useful information regarding diagnoses and treatments, it provides concrete steps for maximizing your own life in the face of your loved one's illness. Don't miss it!
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2001
The American Psychiatric Association, in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, offers the "official" list of symptoms of depression.
Anne Sheffield makes a significant contribution to the field of mental health when she spells out the "unofficial" list of symptoms: the "clinical" presentation of a depressive disorder is not necessarily the same as the "behind closed doors" presentation.
In his Foreword, TV journalist Mike Wallace (who is open about his own depression) acknowledges that "there is no way properly to describe the anguish that a depressive can put his family through." Anne Sheffield points out that the depressed person may be self-absorbed, quarrelsome, and critical at home "but charming in public."
While depression is often thought of as deep sadness, the author debunks the stereotype of people with depressive illness as "passive bundles of misery." There are some people with depression who do fit that description, but depression comes in varying degrees and with different combinations of symptoms (both official and "unofficial"). Many of us who have lived with a depressive have seen that a generalized negativity may be much more prominent than any sadness, and that the negativity is often targeted at us.
A must-read for anyone who knows a loved one has depression, for those who suspect a loved one might have it, and for doctors and other clinicians who would do well to learn how to recognize some of the more subtle forms of depression, which can be just as devastating as the "passive bundle of misery" form of the disorder.
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 1998
An insightful and helpful book for those who have ever lived with a depressed person. Through case studies and research, Sheffield shares the pain of many who have suffered at the hands of depressed people. This book helps one to understand the guilt and horror one feels when living and coping with a depressed loved one. In addition to realizing that what I felt was not only acceptable, I realized that I was not alone in my feelings. Moreover, Sheffield gives real advice that leads to solutions. I learned to better understand my depressed partner, but also to recognize the effects that their depression was having on me. This book should be read by everyone, it has relevance far beyond the pair imprisoned by a depressive. It has helped identify and explain people's behavior outside the discussed relationships.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2005
As a spouse of a chronically depressed person, I love my husband but hate his disease. I was considering divorce only because I didn't want my young children to be scarred by the nasty affects of his disease.

Reading this book literally saved my marriage and has allowed us to set some ground rules that enable us to have a happy family life. Ms. Sheffield's explanations of the manifestations of the disease help the spouse to understand and adjust the enormous guilt and grief that comes from living with a depressed spouse.

I have recommended this book to everyone I talk with who is living with a depressed spouse. Her examples offer insight I've found nowhere else. AWESOME BOOK!!!!!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2004
I've learnt so much about depression from this book. Coping strategies, what medications are available and how they work, and their side-effects, and most importantly that I'm not alone in this. This book has given me tremendous insight. In these pages, I discovered that my husband did not have unipolar depression, as we thought, but atypical depression, which is treated differently. It has given me hope, and inspired me to search for all the possible solutions. The book is also well-written and very easy to read, as opposed to many other books on the subject, some of which were so technical that it put me to sleep. Thank you, Anne Sheffield, for truly making a difference in my marriage.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2004
I have been re-reading Anne's book:"How To Survive When They're Depressed",it is wonderful. I did not realize,belatedly till recently,that it is I that must change,not the depressives that I live with. Anne's book has given me renewed courage and faith and hope,along with inner strength in order to survive. It has been a long and hard journey for me. Anne deserves a vote of thanks,for trying to help those who suffer so much from depression fallout,that it can literally almost destroy the depression fallout victim.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2001
As the mother of a depressed adult woman, I've read several books in an attempt to understand what SHE is dealing with, and how it is affecting the rest of the family. Many books deal with the depressed person's problems, and there are a few that focus specifically with the people whose lives are directly affected by the depressed person...spouses, parents, children, friends, in particular. This one will have you nodding your head in agreement, it acknowledges your need to protect your own mental health, and it gives you concrete ideas, through very readable and interesting case studies, for ways you can help the depressed individual and help yourself survive it.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2006
This book can be a great help. If you are around someone who is suffering from depression, the load of everyday life can be terribly heavy. It helps so much to understand what is going on with your depressed loved one, but also to know that other people go through this too. The realization that you are not doing everything wrong, though the other makes you feel this way often, is very liberating. It can give you the strength you need to put more time and effort into helping the other conquer or understand their own inner tormentor. It can help you objectify the problem and your role in it, and protect yourself by keeping the necessary distance so that you don't get swallowed up by it - and sometimes even to walk away from it altogether if it threatens to destroy you. And if you can get the other to read it, too, then they can read a more objective - and less accusing - report on what life has been (or is) like for you, making it easier for them to understand what you have been going through, reducing the risk of an unproductive me-you discussion.

Though I tend to want to be self-reliant and think I don't need outside help, I don't honestly know if we (my then-boyfriend and I) would have been able to process, and leave behind us (and move on), the terrible period we had together had it not been for this book.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2000
This book was a life saver for me. It helped me realize that my husband's behaviour was because of his illness. Anne teaches that the depression, the *it*, is mostly responsible for the horrible behaviour we 'care-givers' have to endure while our loved ones cope with this illness. That *it* is not our fault. As a 'care-giver' spouses have to be as emotionally stable as possible in order to help our depressed loved ones. This book helps immensely! It was a life saver to me and to my marriage.
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