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How to Help Your Mom with Depression
It's never easy to deal with a family member with depression, but because of the caregiver dynamic many of us have with our mothers, when mom has trouble, the rest of the family is at a loss for how to help.
Indeed, learning how to help your mom with depression will force you to become the caregiver for a change, and while that may be difficult at the beginning, your entire family will be healthier in the long run.
The following are some steps you can take to help your mom overcome her depression:
Educate Yourself and Your Family
Learn to identify the signs of depression, and read everything you can about the disease. Not understanding something can make it seem worse or more mysterious than it is, so by educating yourself, you will improve your patience, and be better equipped to discuss with your mother just what she is going through. Make sure you share your knowledge with other family members.
Help Your Mom Find Help
Because depression makes a person lethargic and apathetic, it may fall to you to make appointments for her with her primary care doctor or a psychiatric specialist. Just make sure you have her permission first; this is not a situation where you want her thinking you've gone behind her back. Ask her if it would help if you went with her for the first and/or subsequent visits.
Help your mom maintain the motivation to go to therapy and continue taking medication. It is common for depression sufferers to stop their medication because they start to feel better, without realizing it was the drugs that made them feel better in the first place. It's your job to make sure she understands how important they are. If you learn she has stop taking them, talk with her doctor.
Check in on your mom, even if you don't live with her. If you can't make it, ask a friend or neighbor to drop by every once in a while. If you notice the depression worsening, or if she has stopped eating or taking care of herself, you should definitely contact her therapist.
Be Aware of Suicidal Signs
It may be awful to think about, but you have to remain watchful for signs that your mother may be having suicidal thoughts. Behaviors such as glorifying death, saying goodbye, giving away possessions, or a sudden change from depressed to calm should be taken as warning signs. If your mom displays any of these, get help immediately. In an emergency, don't be afraid to call 911.
Remember that antidepressants can take several weeks to take effect and that depression does not resolve itself overnight. Your mom has a hard struggle ahead of her, but you can help her overcome it. In fact, it's entirely possible that understanding how to help your mom with depression will ultimately bring you closer to her than ever before.
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