Tonight I read a reader comment about depression and responsibility that really made me think. What if a family member clearly has depression but doesn’t do much to make things work? Is it OK to just blame the depression and hope it passes? Should the depressed person take responsibility? What if everyone else goes all out to help and they still don’t do what it takes to see improvement? Are there other options to make things better?
I’m telling you, this topic treads on some delicate ground. I have been depressed and I understand the feeling of being frozen with uncertainty and unable to think in a straight line. I remember feeling that so much of what I did was fruitless and futile.
Was it my fault I had depression? No. Was it still my responsibility to look after myself and try everything I could to make something better? Yes, it was. Whether I had been told by others that I seemed depressed or whether I knew myself that something was wrong, it’s always been my primary job to look after myself the best I can (as it is for everyone).
It’s so hard to make someone care about themselves. If they really don’t want to, if they don’t seem motivated by natural consequences that might follow if they don’t, if they can’t seem to see how their inaction affects others, you can have a tough situation on your hands.
Sometimes, a person’s depression lingers on and on because of issues outside of themselves. Here are some thoughts on why they may not be doing better:
- They may be trying to take on too much at once, creating a sense of unrealistic expectations or inevitable failure. Responsibility is important, but taking steps that are too big can collapse the process.
- Family members may have taken on so much responsibility, the depressed person feels they have no purpose anymore or are a burden. Again, a good amount of responsibility can restore purpose without being overwhelming.
- They may be in treatment, but it isn’t effective. It might be time to reconsider current medication, the therapeutic approach, the diagnosis, or even the therapist. Talking to these professionals can get some fresh ideas going.
- The depressed person has really tuned in to the habits and lifestyle of a depressed person. This one may be the toughest of all to handle. It means you need to try to sift apart the depression from the person’s personality. When depression goes on long enough, treated or untreated (or ineffectively treated), it can sometimes start to meld with the person’s sense of self.
This is an excellent article for more ideas on approaching depression that doesn’t seem to improve. Lots and lots of ideas here, some repeating the ones I touch on but some that are different. If you or the depressed person are willing to try even a few of these, then you have a great chance of stumbling on the thing that will break the cycle.
You may be just one option away from some real improvement. But do keep in mind that the depressed person may or may not want to follow through. Above all, take good care of yourself through this entire process.
Anyone go through several ups and downs with their depression before they found something that finally helped?