Overcoming Depression as a Family

A strong support network of family and friends is priceless when someone is struggling with depression. However, when someone we love is battling depression, it can be difficult to know how is best to help them, especially if we’ve never experienced mental health issues personally. It’s natural to want to find an overnight cure, but mental health issues are never that simple. Depression doesn’t just impact one person; if not handled correctly, it can lead to blame, judgment, miscommunication, isolation and permanently damaged relationships. Here are some ways in which you can ensure your relationships remain strong so you can overcome depression as a family.

Communicate Openly and Honestly

Emotions can be difficult for people to express and describe but doing so is crucial to recovering from depression. Ensure that your family member knows that they are free to talk about what they’re going through and listen to them when they do open up to you. The family as a unit should be able to talk about painful emotions and to confront fears and anxieties. It can sometimes help to share your own experiences of depression if relevant but don’t diminish their struggle or make them feel like their issues aren’t valid. Just listening to them can help them feel less isolated and an occasional text or email to check how they are can make a huge difference when you’re not together.

Help Them Get the Right Treatment and Support

It’s important to remember that depression is treatable and with the right professional support your loved one and family unit can absolutely recover. Research as much as you can about depression and its symptoms and speak with medical and mental health professionals.

There are lots of types of treatment and programs available to help people with depression from medication, talking therapy and rehabilitation centers which specialize in specific conditions or disorders. For example, if your teenage child is struggling with depression, they may benefit from a facility like Ignite Teen Treatment which supports young adults in their recovery from mental health issues and addiction. Of course, it’s not possible to force someone into treatment if they aren’t willing, but by merely suggesting treatment options you are showing them that help is available, and you are there for them.

Don’t Be Judgmental or Critical

Understanding depression is not easy if you’ve never experienced it. Depression is not something they can snap out of, and it’s crucial that you don’t add to their feelings of low self-esteem by blaming or placing them under pressure to recover. The family should be a support network but can’t provide a solution to depression, so do your best to listen and encourage positivity.

Don’t Enable

There is another side to supporting a loved one with depression as it can be tempting to take care of everything for them. In the long run, this may hinder their recovery as they need to establish healthy and balanced lifestyle habits without being dependent on others. Talk to your loved one about ways you can help them while still maintaining some boundaries and their independence.

Take Care of Yourself and the Rest of the Family

The mental health of the rest of the family should be a top priority as caring for someone with depression can place real strain and stress on others. Take time to look after your own physical and mental wellbeing and encourage other family members to do the same. After all, you can’t support someone to your full capacity if you’re tired, undernourished, stressed or anxious.

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