Getting My Mother To Attend Treatment

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My mother has suffered from depression for more than 35 years. My mother got post partum depression after she had her first child in 1972. and back then they didn’t know as much about it so it went untreated for probably 20 years. i don’t remember exactly when she was diagnosed but she has tried everything. she has been on every medication under the sun. then later she was diagnosed with bipolar and has tried another multitude of medications and nothing seems to work. she is just miserable always saying she wished she was dead in front of everybody. she never wants to go out of the house and always says how unhappy she is. i have been telling her she needs to get a second opion but where we are there are not alot of advanced phychatrists all they want to do is push more pills at her. and i don’t think pills will help her. i don’t know where to go. or how to get her to go with me.

A. It is very difficult to help someone who is resistant to treatment. You cannot force them to do something that they don’t want to do. The only time you can force a person into treatment is when they are a danger to themselves or to others. Short of that, there are limited options.

Try suggesting to your mother that she see a psychotherapist instead of a psychiatrist. This doesn’t mean that she should avoid psychiatrists but that she might be willing to try a new approach. She has tried a multitude of medications and has had very little success. Maybe psychotherapy would help her.

Seeing a therapist is a very different experience than seeing a psychiatrist. Many psychiatrists do not provide talk therapy. They tend to focus on medication. Psychotherapists, on the other hand, focus entirely on talk therapy. Psychotherapy can be quite an effective treatment, especially when it is combined with psychiatric medication. If she tries a new treatment approach, it might help to decrease her depression.

You might want to also suggest group therapy. Many local community mental health centers have group therapy sessions at very affordable rates. Some groups might even be free. Many people find that group therapy is a very effective approach to treating depression.

If your mother is not interested in any kind of treatment, then realize you have done all that you can. As mentioned above, you can’t force someone into treatment. I understand that it is difficult to watch a loved one suffer but unfortunately you are limited in how you can affect this situation. Ultimately, whether or not she wants to treat her depression is her choice. Hopefully, for her sake and for the sake of those who care about her, she chooses treatment. I wish you the best. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Jun 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Getting My Mother To Attend Treatment. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/06/09/getting-my-mother-to-attend-treatment/