Millions of individuals in the United States are diagnosed with depression. It can make you want to isolate yourself from loved ones, including your family. Even under perfect circumstances, navigating familial relationships can be difficult. Depression puts a further strain on your family.
This is not to make you feel guilty about your depression. Unfortunately, mental illness is a fact of life. However, if you or a family member are living with depression, there are certain steps you can take to recognize this and alleviate the strain.
Depression does not discriminate; even parents can deal with it. Growing up with a caregiver who deals with depression can have lasting effects on a child. If you are a parent, it can affect the way you take care of your children.
Having depression makes you withdraw into yourself and avoid your emotions. This means, as a parent, you might even avoid your own kids. Spending time with your children is a way that families bond and make memories to last a lifetime. Missing out on quality time with your child can also impact their social life, as children learn many of their social cues through their parents.
Parents with depression might also avoid basic household necessities, like cooking meals, cleaning up, and supervising their child’s hygiene. If you are a parent to older children or teenagers, they might be able to help out in some ways. Try delegating smaller tasks, like taking out the trash or unloading the dishwasher, to alleviate some of your own duties and to give your children a sense of responsibility.
An emotionally avoidant parent can also put stress on your child. They might think that they have done something to cause your depression. This is more likely to make your child grow up to have anxious tendencies and depression as well, though this should not contribute to feelings of guilt. Depression is a mental illness, and there are healthy ways to cope and treat it. Recognizing it is the first step.
Depression in children and teens
There is no handbook when it comes to parenting. If you are the parent of a depressed child or teenager, parenting guidelines become even trickier. You might think that your child having depression is your fault, but it likely has nothing to do with you.
Depression and other mental illnesses can be brought on by a variety of factors, including going through puberty. It is important to remember that depression is not a character flaw within your child, but rather it is just another aspect of their personality.
Having multiple children also makes parenting harder when one of your children has depression. While you might want to direct all of your focus to the child dealing with depression, it is important to remember that your other children have needs as well. Focusing only on one child can create division between your children. As hard as it might be, dividing your time equally between your children is incredibly important in situations like these.
Coping with familial depression
The good news about coping with depression in your family is that you are not alone! Many families go through situations similar to this every single year. Therefore, there are certain tried-and-true coping mechanisms to get through this tough time. Try out some of the following to strengthen your family bond:
- Eat a family meal together every day
- Choose one fun activity to do once a week, like a hike or a movie night
- Tell your child family stories
- Attend family therapy
There is no shame in needing help for you or a family member. Getting the proper medication or instating talk therapy into your routine can and will help. Reach out to us by visiting our contact page.