How Do I Make My Family Understand My Depression?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

They think it can go away over night. I am currently 18 years of age and have been suffering from depression since I was 9. For years I wasn’t aware of my depression but since it’s gotten worse it’s pretty clear that I am suffering from it. So far it has stopped me from living a normal life, I never go out. I’d rather stay in my room away from everyone, even my own family but now it’s starting to bother them. I know they want to help me and they’re trying to get me started in life by getting me a job but I just feel like they’re pushing me. You see, they’ve gotten me a job in a pub and I only work on Fridays but it’s completely out of my comfort zone, I’m no where near ready for something like this and it’s just adding pressure but my family don’t seem to understand that. They say that only I can help myself get better but I know I can’t do it on my own. I haven’t even been to seen a doctor yet so I haven’t been officially diagnosed with depression but I took an online test that said I have major depression and so I told my mum about it but she just seems to ignore it, thinking it will go away over night. This is really frustrating me, I can’t get the help I need and I’m just getting pushed into a life which I’m not ready for yet, I feel completely useless and pathetic. So far I’ve only refused to go to work, it’s just too much to handle and all I get is shouted at which only makes me feel worse. What do I say to my family to make them understand what I’m going through?

A. You could try having a serious, heart-to-heart conversation with your parents. If that is not an option, then consider writing them a detailed letter about how you’re feeling. Writing a letter gives you an opportunity to thoroughly explain your experience with depression. It would help to include a statement regarding the seriousness of depression and that excellent treatments are available.

You may want to consider giving them this letter and my response. It might convince them that you could benefit from professional help.

Your parents seem as though they are trying to “push” you out of your depression. They may believe that forcing you out of your “comfort zone” will help you to overcome your symptoms. On one hand, their strategy may not be totally off base. You have gotten to the point where you don’t like leaving your room. Limiting your activities to only those that are within your “comfort zone” reduces your anxiety but it reinforces your fears. Avoiding uncomfortable activities makes your symptoms worse.

On the other hand, their attempts at helping are causing you significant distress and it does not seem to be working. It is also driving you away from them rather than bringing you closer.

Professional help from a mental health professional is what is needed in this situation. Ask your parents if they would be willing to take you to a therapist. A therapist can assist both you and your family in understanding and correcting this situation. Individual therapy and family therapy may both be helpful. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Mar 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). How Do I Make My Family Understand My Depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/03/24/how-do-i-make-my-family-understand-my-depression/