Dear Patricia Marie,

My husband has always been sympathetic of the depression I have struggled with for years, which makes me feel so tired and miserable, but my sister and brother have been so unhelpful and my mother positively cruel. It came to a head last week when she said I was just like my dad, who died 30 years ago when I was 10. I don't feel I have a family anymore.

Patricia Marie says...

Depression can be so draining. It's not just about sadness, but about feeling helpless, isolated and having little, if any energy. It can run in families, but whether that's genetic or because of shared experiences, experts can't be sure. Your father's death and your family's negative attitude may be linked to you feeling as bad as you do.

Friends and family support is crucial for the recovery and well-being of those suffering with the brutal illness of depression - indeed, feelings of loneliness can make the sufferer more vulnerable. It seems to me, your mother's anger and lack of understanding demonstrates she hasn't fully been able to come to terms with the death of your father. It may not be easy, but you could try suggesting she gets some professional help, which would assist her in understanding depression better so as she can relate to your needs. If your father did kill himself that doesn't mean you will follow suit, nor that suicide thoughts are stupid, certainly, they aren't uncommon in depression. What is a lot more silly and annoying is your families unhelpful behaviour.

Contact mental health charity, Mind (0300 123 3393; mind.org.uk), for its excellent information and help in finding good support. This organisation can give you details of their group therapy sessions, where meeting other fellow sufferers may prove helpful to you in feeling understood.