For those living with depression, every day can be a challenge. For family members of those suffering, it's sometimes hard to know what to do, and you may feel like you're walking on eggshells. Understanding depression can go a long way in helping deal with this illness, and there are some coping tips that may help. Here are some starting points.
Get the Best Treatment
The first step is to get treatment - but it's equally important to get the best treatment. This means taking the time to get the help you need, or helping your depressed family member find the optimal help.
Include Family in Therapy
While the depressed individual may not want family members present in every counseling or therapy session, it may be a good idea to include family members at least some of the time. The therapist can then see a slice of the family dynamic, and the family members can gain a better understanding of the issue. Some family members are more likely to believe a therapist's "take" on things than take the depressed person's word for it.
Including family may also help other family members to better understand how to treat the depressed individual, and what things they can say or do to support the depressed person.
Parents of Teens
Because teenagers are a high-risk group for developing depression, parents may benefit from some tips on living with a depressed teen. Here are three suggestions.
Develop a tough skin. Teens who are depressed may yell at you to leave them alone, to go away, or to stop talking to them. For teens, this may be a sort of test of your parenting - the teen may be testing to see if you care enough to press through the anger and continue trying to reach them. Parents who truly do care may miss this aspect and just give up after being yelled at. Instead, remember it's not personal and your teen still needs you.
Listen. Busy parents often forget to listen, and how important it is. Parents sometimes need to stop running and take a break to listen and talk. A parent-teen "date" or retreat can help - maybe a mother-daughter shopping trip or father-son fishing excursion.
Encourage your depressed teen to problem solve. As parents, we just want their struggles to go away; but giving them the tools to cope is a gift that will last a lifetime. It's okay to help, encourage, and prompt your teen; but experts say your goal as a parent is to get their brains working on solving their own problems.
As a depressed person, it may be hard to maintain friendships. But supportive friends are important for your depression management and coping. Try to make a point of nurturing these relationships; it will help you break out of yourself and focus on someone else.