How do I help?: I have a 20 year old... - Anxiety and Depre...

Anxiety and Depression Support

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How do I help?


I have a 20 year old son who suffers from depression. My question is "How do I help him?" I know I can not fix him. I know he needs to be the one that decides he wants help. I try to bring up some things that might help but that doesn't go so well. Right now, I am giving him space and being there for him. But is there anything else I can be doing?

16 Replies

Your son is very fortunate to have someone who cares for him and wants to help. I wish I had suggestions for you, but I just wanted to tell you that at least. Wishing you and your son the best. Maybe others on here will have suggestions.

Since each person's needs are different, I would ask him how you can best support him during this difficult time.

I'd also google "how to support someone with depression" and look at reputable sites (webMD, mayo clinic, psychology today, etc.) for articles/information.

As has been previously said everyone is different & will need different support. I can only talk about my experience. When my mam keeps asking how I am or if I'm ok, it gets me down knowing that she's worried about me & having her act sympathetically. Personally, I find it easier when she just says that she's there or just comes & helps me do what I need to (helping me tidy my home or garden etc as it's the every day things I struggle with on bad days & just don't have the energy to even think about doing them) or spends time doing little things like coming out with me for a walk with my dog or we go somewhere for dinner. Try not to suggest things to 'help' him, more just suggest he do different things he enjoys, spend time with friends or ask if there is anything he would like to do with you. Maybe go see a film or out for food. By doing these things it will make the day easier for him, but if he's not feeling up to it just say ok & leave him. Speak to him 'normally' (not in a sympathetic tone) & just say that your there for him if he needs to talk or just wanting a hand with something then leave it at that. I hope some of what I've said might help & I hope he feels better soon.

Coop1313 in reply to Tealb

Your reply was very insightful and helpful. I am a teacher and coach. And fixing problems is what I do everyday. I struggle that I can’t fix him. But now I am not pressuring him. There are days he just needs to stay in bed. I used check and check and check over and over. And I thought I was being supportive. I had no idea I was doing the opposite. If you have any other ideas that may help us, please share. His one class he is taking is just about over. At least he left the house and got out for that. He hasn’t worked in a while. I’m not mentioning that he should be looking for something and I’m hoping he will on his own. Do you think that is a good approach?

Tealb in reply to Coop1313

Glad I can help in some way & I hope you & your son are doing better. I do think it's best to let him do things on his own time. If it's something he is interested in or enjoys it will be easier for him to go out & do. On the work front I'd probably suggest not saying that he SHOULD be looking, but it might help if you mention things if you see something like 'i seen ........ are looking for someone, you'd be great at that' . Make sure it is something that he's interested in though & not just every job you see. Something might spark his interest & if it's a passing suggestion & a confidence boost at the same time there is no pressure & will be 'his idea' to apply. Maybe even just ask in general conversation if he could have his dream job in 5 years (or any time frame) what would it be. From there you might both get some inspiration.

My son has suffered from depression and anxiety since he was 15. He is now 23 and he is doing better. I read every article there was about depression. Took him to several different doctors, therapists, etc. I didn’t really understand how he felt until I joined this group. It has helped me, help him. He is making progress moving forward and I can be more compassionate by knowing how he truly feels. This is a great group. They are extremely kind and helpful. Feel free to message me if you need some additional support.

If he’s willing to go, he needs a professional therapist. This is not a burden you an band,e on your own.

Coop1313 in reply to Blueonblue

That’s the issue - he’s not willing to go.

I was about the same age as your soon when I started with depression and anxiety. The way I found for me the best support from both my parents was that they understood what I was going through and they were always willing to listen all my array of symptoms and thoughts. First, I would advise you to get educated as to read about depression, read what it does to the body, to the brain and to the thought process, so when your son comes to you, you understand where he's coming from. By being familiar with it from the educational point of view he will find you emphatic and be willing to talk to you more. Depression tends to trick your brain into thinking you are all on your own and none will be there for you, my second advise will be, be there for your son, but don't ask how he's doing because to depression sufferers being on the spot puts more pressure on us, just hug him, talk about your stuff, engage him into a walk in the park, stuff to do, and little by little I am more than sure he'll start opening up.

Good luck and God bless!

Coop1313 in reply to AnaIM84

I admit when he furstvyold is about his depression and social anxiety, we tried to fix him. I am trying my best to be there for him but at the same time giving him space. I am hearing more and more often that he needs to see we are living our lives and not waiting on him to get better. Easier said than done. Thanks for the advice. It helped a lot.

Coop1313 in reply to AnaIM84

I’m am listening to your advice and doing my best to support him but not hover over him. Recently there have been more good than really bad days for. him. I remind myself everyday what it must feel like for him. I go on with my life as much as possible and I think that has taken some pressure off of him. If there’s anything else I should be doing, please don’t hesitate to write back. Thanks so much for your insights and compassion.

AnaIM84 in reply to Coop1313

I am so sorry I took forever to answer back. It sounds you and your son are doing great which is so refreshing to hear. Creating a safe space for someone that suffers from depression and anxiety is key, remind him of how safe things are by just doing them and invite him along. Feeling that we are useful even when we feel depressed is reassuring to us that the disease is manageable and ultimately leads us to ask for help by opening up about what goes on in our minds. Even when we are depressed we can still do stuff, no one is saying to stop being depressed but you can still be like that and take a shower, prepare lunch, run errands, and that is important for you son to understand. Nobody is asking him to change, he can be depressed but at the same time he can be useful and function. I hope everything is going better, it will get there.

Many blessings your way!

I an new to this group but I have been trying to help my 20 year old daughter since she was 14. We have our good days and bad days but I am reaching out to local groups like NAMI to get support for her and myself. I really wish there were more group therapy sessions because it helps her to know she is not alone and she feels more comfortable with others that understand her. Good luck and just keep trying to connect and be there when needed.

As much as a parent wants to help, the truth is, you can't .Beware of trying to be too " supportive" , because there is a fine line from support to enabling him to wallow. Have him contact the DBSA , they have support groups that he go to online, he also may want to look into different therapy techniques, like EBT, CBT, and DBT.

Maybe these articles can help guide you. Continuing to give your son support, love, space I'm sure goes along way. Be patient with him.

Thank you for the articles. If you think any others could help me understand what my son is going thru, please send them my way!

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