Depression not only affects the person who is depressed, but also family members, friends and co-workers. Depression affects all types of people with some groups suffering more than others.

Almost 18 million people suffer from some form of depression. Since there is more than one type of depression, others must come to understand that the cause of depression is unique to each individual.

Major depressive disorder involves loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable, “feeling blue” or “down in the dumps,” suffering insomnia, weight loss or gain — among other symptoms. These symptoms are experienced day after day by the depressed person.

Certain life events, such as loss of a loved one, flashbacks or nightmares may trigger a depression that becomes major.

Then, of course, there is your run of the mill depressed attitude. This happens to just about everyone when we don’t get the raise, flunk a test or have a fender bender.

In this case, family, friends and co-workers are more in tune with us and help to get us back on track. They give support and encouragement and it is accepted.

This type of depression, treatment and outcome is quite different than treatment for major depression.

To better understand how you can assist a family member, friend or co-worker with depression, here are proven, helpful guidelines:

• Have realistic expectation for yourself — it is not up to you to cure another’s depression.

• Keep up with a daily routine — figure out ways to take care of your needs without negatively affecting the relationship.

If you take a walk in the evening, keep doing it.

• Provide love and support — replace judging, assuming and blaming with gaining information and understanding. Allow the depressed person to be of help to you.

• Don’t take it personally — mixed feelings are common in depressed people; take a deep breath before you react to negativity, insults or pressuring.

•Get or ask for help when you need it. See a mental health professional, talk to your primary care doctor or seek a support group.

Above all, know that help is available and that depressed people can and do learn to manage their symptoms in order to live life fully.