Depression Help

getting around depression denial | Terezia Farkas | author | depression help | Beliefnet

What can you do when your loved one is depressed and refuses help? Refusing help is one of the toughest hurdles caregivers and loved ones face. After all, you want to help the person who is depressed. But your loved one is stubborn. Defiant. How can you help someone in depression denial?

The key is to find common ground and focus on the  problems your loved one can see. It won’t help telling the person that life will get better when its ideas. Because positive ideas get corrupted by depression into negative outcomes. It’s better to avoid debating with your loved one about getting help.


Experts say there are ways to circumvent a loved one’s refusal to seek help:

  • BE GENTLE. Your loved one likely feels very vulnerable. “This is akin to talking to someone about his weight,” says Ken Duckworth, a psychiatrist and medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an education, support and advocacy group. Simply saying “I love you” will help.
  • SHARE YOUR OWN VULNERABILITY. If you’ve accepted help for anything—a problem at work, an illness, an emotional problem—tell your loved one about it. This will help reduce their shame, which is a contributing factor to denial.
  • STOP TRYING TO REASON. Don’t get into a debate about who is right and who is wrong. Ask questions instead. Learn what your loved one believes.
  • FOCUS ON THE PROBLEMS YOUR LOVED ONE CAN SEE. Suggest they get help for those. For example, if they acknowledge sleep loss or problems concentrating, ask if they will seek help for those issues. “Don’t hammer them with everything else,” says Dr. Duckworth. “Nobody wants to be pathologized.
  • SUGGEST YOUR LOVED ONE SEE A GENERAL PRACTITIONER. It is often far easier to persuade them to do this than to see a psychiatrist or psychologist. And this physician can diagnose depression, prescribe medicine or refer to a mental-health professional.
  • WORK AS A TEAM. Ask if you can attend an appointment with the doctor or mental-health professional, just once, so you can share your observations and get advice on how best to help.
  • ASK FOR HELP FOR YOURSELF. See a therapist to discuss how you are doing and to get help problem solving. Or contact organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness to find information on caregiving or support groups.
  • ENLIST OTHERS. Who else loves this person and can see the changes in their behavior? Perhaps a sibling, parent, adult child or religious leader can help you break through.
  • LEVERAGE YOUR LOVE. Ask the person to get help for your sake. “If your loved one will not get help, you will not win on the strength of your argument,” says Xavier Amador, a clinical psychologist and director of the LEAP Institute. “You will win on the strength of your relationship.”

~ Elizabeth Bernstein

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