Attempting to support someone with depression can be a daunting and overwhelming challenge. Alternatively, if you are the one experiencing depression, you may find the whole family is being affected. Whilst everyone experiences low mood at times, depression is a mental illness in which an individual feels an intense sadness, or numbness, for a prolonged period of time (weeks or months), often without knowing why. In other cases, depression may have an identifiable cause, or may be the combination of several life events or continuing difficulties (e.g. unemployment). Depression is one of the most common mental health problems, with one in five people in Australia experiencing depression at some stage in their lives.
If a family member or loved one has depression, it is unlikely they will improve or recover on their own. However, depression is very treatable, and there are a wide range of options to combat depression and maintain long-term wellbeing. Regardless of whether your family member has sought treatment, or is yet to ask for help, emotionally supporting them can take a toll on you. It can be scary and frustrating to watch a loved one struggle with depression, without being able to solve their problems or improve their mood, despite your best efforts.
So, what does depression look like? Depression is characterised by a low mood and is considered to be a serious illness when:
Depression affects a person’s thoughts, behaviours, feelings, and physical well-being. Common signs which may indicate depression include:
- Being unable to enjoy hobbies or activities
- Lacking motivation
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Not wanting to socialise as much or as often
- Constantly feeling tired
- Change in appetite
- Loosing or gaining weight
- Sleep disturbance
- Becoming run down
If a family member’s experience of depression is negatively impacting your own mood or functioning, and you think you would benefit from support, contact VCPS. Managing your concerns and stress is crucial in order to maximise your ability to cope with life’s daily challenges and thrive within all aspects of your life, including relationships, work or study. In seeking support for yourself, you will also be better equipped to support your family member.
The psychologists at VCPS are specialised in providing help. A psychologist may help by: