Usually the victim isn’t the only one who needs help with depression: Studies show a link between family and depression symptoms. It isn’t unusual for family members of a depressed person to begin developing actual depression symptoms themselves. After all, depression can be triggered by stress, and living with a loved one displaying all the signs of depression can be incredibly stressful.
For those struggling with depression, family help is an important line of defense. Victims often won’t seek help on their own, so it’s up to those close to them to identify the signs and symptoms of depression. This isn’t easy, however â€” depression causes its victims to become irritable and cranky. Victims may shut out family members who are trying to provide help with depression. As a result, family members may withdraw, causing the depressed person to feel even more alone.
Depression in Family: Recognizing Symptoms
So, what’s the best way to heal depression in family members? The best way to help a depressed family member is to know the symptoms of depression so you can recognize it when it manifests. Common symptoms signaling the need for help with depression include:
- Depressed feelings that last most of the day
- Lack of interest in normally pleasurable activities
- Sleeping problems, either sleeping too much or too little
- Talk of suicide or death
- Trouble concentrating and making decisions
- Weight fluctuations.
Depression: Family Help Advice
How should family or friends deal with a depressed loved one? Ignoring depression in family members won’t work–for the safety of the person suffering depression, you should never ignore these symptoms.
For depression, family help involving a sympathetic ear may be beneficial. Although many people feel that talking about the problem may make things worse, this is rarely the case. Many depressed people lack the energy to seek help for themselves. Instead of waiting to be asked for help with depression, try offering it.
With regards to family and depression, some family members choose to resist the warning signs, telling the depressed person to “buck up,” or “shape up or ship out.” However, depression isn’t something that can be simply wished away. Like any other illness, depression in family members requires professional treatment.
Try to persuade the depressed person to see a doctor for help with depression. Talk openly about your observations and concerns. Offer to make the initial appointment and accompany the depressed person to the first few visits. Above all, be caring and supportive. For those suffering from depression, family help such as this may be resisted, but keep trying.
If a depressed family member talks about suicide or exhibits warning signs like withdrawing from social circles or giving away possessions, step in and call a doctor or hospital immediately. Don’t wait to take action when suicide is a possibility.
Healthy Place Staff. (2008). Effects of depression on family and friends. Retrieved April 5, 2010, from the Healthy Place website: http://www.healthyplace.com/depression/living-with-depression/effects-of-depression-on-family-and-friends/menu-id-1343/.
Marana, H. (2007). Depression: A family matter. Retrieved April 5, 2010, from the Psychology Today website: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200303/depression-family-matter.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Depression (major depression). Retrieved April 5, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/MH00016/NSECTIONGROUP=2.