Depression in the Family: How It Impacts Others
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the U.S., affecting 21 million U.S. adults per year. That’s a pretty staggering statistic. But the negative impact of depression goes beyond the individual experiencing it themselves – family members feel it, too.
Depression in the family can be challenging in several ways. Not only can it be difficult to recognize, but it can take a toll on family relationships. It’s crucial to not only be able to identify the symptoms of depression in family members but also understand the best way to support that person and yourself.
How to Recognize Depression in Family Members
Spotting depression in family members isn’t always easy. Some symptoms of depression are a lot more noticeable than others. That’s why depression is sometimes referred to as an “invisible illness.” Many times, family members with depression may be able to mask their symptoms from you and others in an attempt to avoid worry and concern.
They may pretend everything is perfectly fine, but on the inside, they are struggling.
It’s vital you don’t shrug off any possible symptoms of depression in family members so you can give them the support and help they need and let them know they aren’t alone.
Common Signs of Depression
Because symptoms vary from person to person, recognizing depression in the family can be difficult, but it’s certainly not impossible. If you notice any behavioral or emotional changes in family members, it’s crucial to take the next step in supporting them by either talking with them about it or talking about it with other family members.
Some of the most common signs of depression include the following:
- overwhelming sadness and feelings of hopelessness
- loss of interest in things typically enjoyed
- weight and appetite changes
- difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- irritability and angry outbursts
- changes in sleeping patterns, such as sleeping more or less than usual
- isolating from others
- alcohol or drug use
- feelings of worthlessness and focusing on past “failures”
- thoughts and speaking of suicide
Symptoms of Depression in Family Members That May Be Difficult to Spot
- unexplained pain in the body, such as headaches or back pain
- forced “happiness”
- decreased libido
- negative self-talk
Other Signs of Depression
- spending all day in bed
- canceling plans for made-up reasons
- skipping meals
- less attention to personal hygiene
- messy room or house
While some of these signs and symptoms of depression can be challenging to pinpoint, it’s essential to pay attention to anything that seems “off” with family members. No matter who it is in your family, they may want to hide their symptoms from you rather than reach out for help.
How Depression in The Family Affects Children
When a parent or caregiver struggles with depression, it can have a profound negative impact on the children in their care. Of course, the caregiver dealing with depression in no way wants to impact their children negatively, but unfortunately, it does happen. In the case of single-parent homes, this can be particularly dangerous to the child’s well-being.
Parents or caregivers struggling with depression tend to be less emotionally involved with their children and are often emotionally “absent.” They may not do the little things like engage their children in activities or read bedtime stories because they can’t muster the energy to do so.
Parental and caregiver depression can affect children in the following ways:
- Attachment and Relationship Issues: When a parent or caregiver struggles with depression, it can severely impair the parent-child relationship. Parents or caregivers with depression frequently find it difficult to provide emotional support and are often inattentive and disengaged. This can negatively impact attachment and bonding, affecting the child’s sense of trust and security now and in the future.
- Educational and Social Issues: Because parents and caregivers with depression are less likely to engage with school and social communities, it’s highly likely their child will, too. This means the child will not experience much social interaction and may struggle in school. Parents and caregivers with depression may also have trouble getting their children to school on time or even at all on some days.
- Behavioral Issues: When a child lives in a house with a depressed caregiver, especially when there isn’t another who is there to step up to provide for their emotional needs, they may act out, become withdrawn, or have trouble in school. They may have sleeping, eating, and concentration problems due to the stress caused by depression in the family.
- Emotional Issues: Watching a parent or caregiver struggle with depression can be difficult for children. They may feel responsible for their parent’s moods and even blame themselves, leading to their own emotional challenges.
- Self-esteem and Identity Issues: Many children with parents or caregivers dealing with depression internalize the situation, making them feel unloved, unsupported, and unworthy. This can lead to them having difficulty developing healthy self-esteem, confidence, and identity.
If you are a parent or caregiver struggling with depression, please understand that the negative impacts on your family and child are not your fault. You did not choose to have depression. But you can choose to get help and avoid any future issues in the family. It’s crucial you get the professional help you need not only for your sake but also for your child’s.
How a Child or Teen’s Depression Affects Parents and Siblings
Depression doesn’t discriminate. Children and teens may also struggle with depression, negatively impacting the parents and other family members. Not only is it challenging to see your child in emotional pain, but it can also complicate the balancing act of caring for them, other children, work, and other responsibilities.
When a child has depression, it can create strife and conflict in the family due to the nature of the mental illness. Your child could have angry outbursts, become withdrawn, and need more attention to ensure they don’t do anything that may jeopardize their life. Having a child with depression can also cause stress and worry, which ultimately affects everyone in the household.
However, depression is a treatable mental illness. If you stay on top of getting your child the appropriate care, depending on their needs, family life can still be enjoyable for everyone. Getting help for your child as soon as possible can improve their mental health outcome and family relationships.
Trust BOLD Health for Depression Treatment in San Diego
Whether you need depression therapy in San Diego for yourself, your partner, or your child or teen, we can help. Our team of experienced therapists includes clinicians who specialize in helping children and teens as well as parents and caregivers.
At BOLD Health, we utilize a holistic approach and take the time to get to know and understand you so we can curate the ideal treatment plan for you or your loved one. Our options for depression treatment in San Diego include:
- individual therapy
- group therapy
- family therapy
- medication management
- intensive outpatient program (IOP in San Diego)
- ketamine treatment
Seeking depression therapy in San Diego shouldn’t be an added stress to your family. So, if you or someone in your household needs help, look no further than BOLD Health. We’re here for you and ready to help you or your loved one feel better so you can have a happy, thriving household.