When someone you love is suffering from depression, it can be a difficult and emotionally draining time, but it can also be frustrating and confusing if you aren’t familiar with depression. If nothing you do seems to help you may start to lose hope or could feel powerless. This is why it’s crucial that the family members of someone with depression take the time to understand the condition and the path the recovery. With support and compassion you can help people with depression to recover and manage their symptoms. Here is some advice about how to address depression in your family.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Depression
Depression and its symptoms are not always the same in each person, but if someone is depressed, you may notice some of the following behaviors:
- Sadness, hopelessness, emptiness or being tearful
- Anger or irritability over small issues
- Loss of enthusiasm for activities they used to enjoy
- Sleeping too much or struggling to sleep, (i.e., insomnia)
- Lethargy and constant tiredness
- Significant changes in appetite and/or weight (either increased or reduced)
- Restlessness or anxiety about small issues
- Slower speech, movement or difficulty thinking, concentration or memory issues
- Focusing on negative experiences from the past, self-blame and feeling worthless
- Recurring mentions of death or talk or suicidal thoughts
- Physical pain with no physical explanation.
Lots of people suffering from depression will find that eventually their symptoms will impact their everyday life including school, work, social life, and personal relationships.
How to Address Depression in a Family Member
Sometimes people do not recognize or refuse to accept that they are depressed as it can develop slowly, which may lead them to think that how they feel is ‘normal.’ If they do not understand what depression is and how their symptoms could be related they may believe they will be able to sort it out on their own. However, depression rarely improves without treatment and can worsen over time. Here are some ways which you may be able to address their depression and encourage them to get help.
- Learn about depression, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment.
- Start an open conversation with them about your concerns.
- Tell them what you’ve learned about depression as a medical condition, make it clear that it is not their fault or a weakness in them and that it can be treated.
- Suggest that they seek advice and support from a professional such as a doctor, a mental health professional, or a specialized treatment center like Ignite Teen Treatment.
- Offer to help them work out a list of questions they may have for their first appointment and tell them you are happy to go with them if it would help.
- If you’re concerned that they may be having suicidal thoughts or may harm themselves, contact a doctor or, in extreme cases, call 911.
When your family member is receiving treatment for their depression, it’s important to note that their treatment may need revisiting in the future. It can sometimes take time to find the right medication type and dosage as well as the right therapy or coping mechanisms. If you feel that your family member’s depression is worsening, they may need to return to their doctor or revisit a psychotherapist.