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Death of Highlands Ranch mom, kids spotlights often-invisible threat of depression

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- The revelation that a Highlands Ranch mother found dead with her two young sons had battled depression for many years is putting the spotlight on what experts say is often an invisible threat.

Like millions with severe depression, Jennifer Laber suffered alone.

"Depression is a disease,” her husband Ryan Laber said at a memorial service Saturday. “It is insidious coercive and often operates in silence.”

He said the illness is what took his wife and two young sons.

 

"This really wasn't probably just a depressed mom. She may have started depressed but this turned into a psychosis,” psychologist Dr. Sheryl Ziegler said.

“And that is really what people need to understand so that we don't perpetuate the stigma of people not wanting to talk about depression."

Ziegler specializes in women's depression issues and said it's hard for any partner to recognize and cope.

"I think when a loved one sees someone that they love in a depression, they really need to take it seriously,” she said. “They first of all need to be comfortable addressing it.”

"When the person who is depressed is the primary caretaker to children there needs to be a plan around that. There needs to be safety planning there needs to be conversations around these things.”

Ziegler said just supporting a partner is never enough to treat severe depression.

"Medication plus psycho therapy is what we know to be the best treatment one without the other is simply not enough in many cases of depression," Ziegler said.

If you or someone you know may be suicidal, call 844-493-8255.

The Colorado Crisis and Support Line has certified mental health professionals on duty around the clock.