How to talk to your family about depression

At times, sharing your feelings with your loved ones proves to be the hardest but it’s important. Here’s how to go about it

KARACHI: For some people, it can be extremely difficult to open up about how you’re feeling, and even more so, to your loved ones.

Talking about your family about depression can prove challenging for a number of reason, some of which are:

– They may find it hard to understand or empathise

– They may dismiss your feelings or tell you to get over it

– They may reject your feelings completely

– They may worry about you and you don’t want to stress them out

– They may be the source of your mental health problems

Recognise symptoms
Before speaking to your family, it’s important you try to recognise symptoms of depression and understand that it is a medical condition and not something you can wish away. Symptoms of depression include lethargy, loss of focus, disengagement, low motivation, feeling of sadness, indecisiveness, insomnia or oversleeping, alcohol dependency. You may also find yourself isolating yourself from friends and loved ones.
Having said that, even if you’re not sure you have depression, it’s important you share how you’re feeling with someone.

Write down your feelings
You may find it easier to speak about your feelings and take them seriously, as well as make other’s take them seriously, if you write them down. Another symptom of depression is low self esteem. So in a cruel twist of irony, your depression may be telling you “you’re not worthy” of feeling depressed or it’s all in your head. You may understand and empathise with other people going to through depression but refuse to recognise it in yourself. In such cases, it helps to write down your feelings and read them out loud.

Look for additional resources
There is plenty written and said about depression, and plenty studies have been carried out. It may help to approach the subject with your family by saying, “I was reading an article …” Or sharing it with them to help them understand what you’re going through and assure them that it is someone common and manageable.

Be honest
Once you’re taken the first step of talking about your feelings, it’s imperative that you be completely honest. Be honest about how bad your depression may be. Do not sugar coat it or brush it off

Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Your family may already have noticed a change in your behaviour. Be open about why you’re sharing your feelings with your family: you’re reaching out to them to help you. Tell them you need help and support to get through this and you wouldn’t have reached out otherwise.

Look for support outside family
Since it’s harder to speak to your own family about such things, it may be a good idea to reach out to perhaps a friend who could advise you on how to approach the topic. A friend may be able to give you an outsider’s perspective, or some other kind of support, such as check up on you after your talk or be present with you during the talk. Also, in many abusive or toxic households, your parents or family members are the main sourse of your depression and anxiety. In such cases, it’s okay to find help outside of your home.

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