Home > Ask Our Experts > Partner Supporting Depressed Mother: How Can I Help?

Partner Supporting Depressed Mother: How Can I Help?

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 6 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Depression Support Long-term Family

Q.

My husband's mother suffers from anxiety and depression, which led to psychosis and a short spell of institutional care five years ago. My husband, deeply affected himself by some of the factors which contributed to his mother's illness, feels unable to support her, suffering extreme guilt and anger because of this. My mother-in-law calls her son every day and he talks with her, but it is costing him emotional reserves he does not have.

I understand that people with depression need their families, but this pressure is slowly killing him. She has no husband and no other children. I don't know how to help him and I feel I need to help him before I can help her. We have two tiny children who are inevitably affected by their father's feelings of inability to cope.

(A.L, 1 July 2009)

A.

Depression doesn't only affect the sufferer but also hugely impacts that person's family and friends, which your question clearly shows. It can be overwhelming to cope with the effects of a family member's depression. In fact, that depression can take its toll on everyone and particularly where it is sustained, it can lead to feelings of depression in other family members as well.

Looking at Options

While there is no formula for solving your dilemma, there are some options you can consider. From what you say, your mother-in-law sees your husband (her son) as a regular support person – hence, the calls every day. At the same time, your husband may suffer from guilt that he can't 'fix' her depression as well as anger that it has happened to her and is not going away.

Treatment for Family Members

You don't mention if your mother-in-law is undergoing current treatment for her depression. Is your husband her only support at this time? It's important that she is under the care of her doctor and that she is receiving any appropriate medications and psychotherapy as needed. If your husband is her only 'treatment', it's no wonder he is having a difficult time. In this case, it's important that she sees a doctor.

Family Counselling

Since you have shared that both yourself and your husband – along with your young children – are being affected, it might be helpful to consider counselling for the entire family. Coping alone with the effects of your mother-in-law's depression can be far too overwhelming and having an unbiased, trained counsellor to offer support could make a world of difference. It's worth seeing your GP to find out about counsellor resources in your specific geographic area.

Your commitment to your family and your courage in seeking answers to your questions about your mother-in-law's depression should be applauded. Don't also forget to look after your own needs and mental health. You need to ensure your needs don't get forgotten as you focus on your husband and family. You need self-care as well! Hopefully, you can find the right approach to cope with her depression while she obtains regular support and treatment from her doctor and a counsellor.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • OvercomeDepression
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    ED - Your Question:I've just turned 25 and I've had 2 abortions. I also have a son who is 3. And is the most amazing person in my…
    14 November 2017
  • OvercomeDepression
    Re: Insomnia Caused by Depression
    corey - Your Question:Hello and im corey and im 40 years old. Ive been experiencing sleep difficulties for the past 2 weeks. To…
    23 October 2017
  • corey
    Re: Insomnia Caused by Depression
    Hello and im corey and im 40 years old. Ive been experiencing sleep difficulties for the past 2 weeks. To this day Im unable to…
    20 October 2017
  • Laura
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I had medical abortion a Week ago today. Feeling very emotional ?? and anxious ?? got to go back to Hospital in 3 days for…
    17 October 2017
  • Rosey
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    Hi, I had an abortion at 13 weeks and it was fifteen weeks ago I thought it was my only decision and it's the biggest regret of my…
    12 October 2017
  • OvercomeDepression
    Re: Avoiding Negative and Thinking Positive Thoughts
    Bix - Your Question:What do you do when depression floors you so bad that you feel you cant talk? It has…
    2 October 2017
  • Bix
    Re: Avoiding Negative and Thinking Positive Thoughts
    What do you do when depression floors you so bad that you feel you cant talk? It has left my mind blank…
    30 September 2017
  • OvercomeDepression
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    J - Your Question:I didn't have an abortion yet but I'm going soon. I just found out that I'm pregnant with my boyfriend of 7…
    25 September 2017
  • Not Fine
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I had a medical abortion in March 2017 at 20 weeks pregnancy due to genetic issues in the foetus. My first child (10 yrs old now)…
    15 September 2017
  • OvercomeDepression
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    :-( - Your Question:I had a surgical abortion 10 weeks ago I would of been 16 weeks pregnant this week. I am heartbroken at what…
    15 September 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the OvercomeDepression website. Please read our Disclaimer.