Hand-Me-Down Blues

How the Stop Depression From Spreading in Families
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A powerful, family-based approach to understanding and treating depression that leads readers away from blaming their parents, themselves or their spouses for their depression. 

Through the many case examples and inspiring stories, readers can learn specific skills to choose different and better responses to life challenges.

Learning effective problem-solving and relationship skills can reduce and even prevent depression, something no medication can ever do.

We’ve heard for decades that there must be a depression gene. How often do people say,  “I’m depressed,  just like my mom, or dad, (or any other family member) so this must be genetic.  In Hand-Me-Down Blues, we see that yes, children can “inherit” depression but less from their parents’ genes and more from their parents’ attitudes and behaviors.

In Hand-Me-Down Blues, Dr. Michael Yapko carefully describes how the family can play a crucial role in the development of and recovery from depression. Parents introduce their children to various life experiences and inevitably reveal their own values, perspectives, and biases. Children typically learn to interpret life events in the same way their parents do, and their interpretations can be a basis for depression.

Once depression strikes, it distorts family relationships, splintering families as it spreads from one person to another like a virus.  




Chapter 1: Depression: Part of the Puzzle

Chapter 2: Is Depression Only About Brain Chemistry and Genes?

Chapter 3: Depression from a Family Systems Viewpoint

Chapter 4: Is Our Culture Hurting Our Famiies



Chapter 5: Learning Depression from your Family

Chapter 6: Marriage and Depression

Chapter 7 Hand-Me-Down Blues



Chapter 8: Building Family Strengths

Chapter 9 Redesigning and Rebuildig Families in Marital and Family Therapy

Reviews of Hand-Me-Down Blues

Dr. Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families

“Without a doubt, depression is a prevalent and psychologically painful disorder often passed from one family member to another. This breakthrough book skillfully teaches families how to cope with and also prevent the spread of this disorder by providing sound wisdom and insightful guidelines that empower both parents and children to take responsibility to make better choices day to day. Again the false dichotomy of ‘nature or nurture’ is exposed, and the power of insight and choice exalted.”

Mary Pipher, Ph.D., author of Reviving Ophelia and The Shelter of Each Other

“In Hand-Me-Down Blues, Dr. Michael Yapko combines current psychological research with good common sense. He explores how family members can help each other fight depression. Yapko is a sophisticated professional, but it’s obvious he has been around ordinary families. His writing reflects both kinds of experiences. I highly recommend this important book.”

Jeffrey K. Zeig, Ph.D., director, The Milton H. Erickson Foundation, and president, Zeig, Tucker & Company Publishers

A rigid family of beliefs posits that the proper treatment of depression is ‘better living through biochemistry.’ Dr. Michael Yapko, an internationally renowned expert, brilliantly argues for a broader view: Living better in families provides the real chemistry for happiness. Read this book and catalyze enduring change.”

Amazon.com Review by Jill Lightner

Most of us have heard about the way depression can run in families, and of theories proposing a genetic predisposition to the disease. But those theories present only one side of depression–what about the behaviors and coping skills learned in families where depression is an issue? How do we identify those subtle patterns and improve our lives without resorting to “wonder drugs”? In Hand-Me-Down Blues, Dr. Michael Yapko offers help in plain and simple language. Each chapter has plenty of summarized bullet points and practical suggestions that turn a complicated topic into one easily digested by busy parents. Yapko is careful to avoid blame, adapting a “we’re all in this together” attitude, and analyzes numerous life stories to demonstrate his points. In the chapter “Marriage and Depression”, he relates several stories of couples dealing with depression-related problems. While clearly demonstrating how poor communication can destroy good feelings, he also shouts, “Feelings can lie”–a surprising concept in light of other authors’ “feelings are facts” statements. Positive action is emphasized in every chapter–and the analytical tools to decide which action needs to be taken are provided along the way. Determining the differences between shared and individual responsibility, tolerating ambiguity while establishing healthy boundaries, and displaying adaptability are just a few of the techniques presented.

Yapko does an excellent job of showing the effects of depression in a larger context–not just family relationships, but also how family members often take their learned behaviors into school, work, and other social relationships. His practical methods for dealing with depression call for serious effort and repeat actions, but by putting just a few of his suggestions into practice, you may find yourself with stronger family relationships and a renewed sense of hope for the future.