Like the flu, depression is a highly contagious disorder that can be transmitted socially, jumping from one family member to others. And just as individuals can be depressed, so can whole families, often without their awareness.
As perniciously as it operates in individuals, depression in a family can suck up all the energy of a household, turning what was once a home into a black hole of negative emotions. Usually, such depression is disguised. It tends to show up in bouts of physical illness and a general air of irritability and negativity.
Typically, family members isolate themselves and withdraw into their own spaces, under the protective custody of a computer or TV. And pessimism, sarcasm or silence becomes the dominant style of family exchanges.
Whether or not depression has already moved into a household, families can act to inoculate their members against the disorder. By employing a few basic strategies, families can prevent depression from taking up residence and commandeering their interaction patterns.