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Depressed mother

Hi there

Hoping for some help and advice as how to help my depressed mother. She is not managing at all because I have had to make changes in my life which means that she is not the priority at all times. I am 40! This has hit her hard and she has always suffered from depression which seems to stem from not being in control. When in control of situations, people, events etc, she feels more able to cope but if people start to act on their own thoughts or needs then WHAM she is back down again. She feels that if I once again become the person that puts her first and her needs first then this shows I am kind and caring and thoughtful towards her and this will help her to feel better. She does a lot herself - good diet, exercise, seeing friends but it does not seem to come close to meeting the need to have me next to her, physically or mentally,l. I have a young daughter who she loves to spend time with but I fear who is being really affected by mums low moods. She has had some counselling - this has had some benefit but the counsellor is no longer in the area and mum finds change very difficult. We live very close to each other. The more I try and put in boundaries, the more she feels rejected and the more tightly she clings. Things are very difficult.

Anyone experienced something similar who might be able to help me and to help her?


6 Replies

Sounds like if you keep being held responsible for your mums mental health you will get depression. Depression is horrible - it affects people in different ways. But, I've never experienced depression being lifted by physical proximity of a specific person.

Your mum appears to have anxiety issues. You talk about her needing to control. Depression to me is an emptiness of feeling, feeling numb. It's when all hope is taken from you and everything has no meaning. Your mums low mood seems dependent on your actions- that's not depression that's manipulation. If you have a young daughter who is seeing you put your mother first you teach your child that she is not important and that you are not important. Your mothers behaviour will effect you both. This sounds like a pattern of emotionally abusive behaviour which is often at the heart of depression - and I'm talking your future depression and not ur mums.

Mothers nurture children not the other way round. Please tell her enough and stand your ground. For your sake and your daughters. If mum needs help make her a doctors appointment and that's all.

1 like


Thanks for this. In my head, I know this and also have a very good therapist. However, there are days where I have no clue how to go about things and actually would rather not see her (mum) anymore which is difficult due to our proximity of living arrangements. You are right re anxiety and manipulation. I am beginning an extrication but it's hard going when you see someone physically crumble in front of you.

Thanks for your message


Hi she is clearly not too depressed to exercise and see friends etc. so I feel that she is manipulating you as well. Are there any other family members who could share the being with her?

You are quite right that you have to set some boundaries. Why not sort out certain days/time which you can set aside for her and stick to it. She will have to learn that she can't be the no 1 priority in your life as you daughter is. Stay strong when she tries to emotionally blackmail you as she relies on the guilt trip to get you to do what she wants.

Stick to your guns as you are doing the right thing for yourself and your daughter.


Your under no obligation to maintain an unhealthy relationship. Being your mum, being 'depressed' is not justification for being a manipulative and demanding person. Don't let her guilt trip you. Think about the times she's let you down - she's forced you to behave as she wishes. Harden yourself with that. You said in your post something about her wanting you to prove you were a good person and cared for her by looking after her. That's wrong and insulting. If by the age of 40 she hasn't realised what a blessing of a daughter you are, she is never going to. A mothers love is unconditional - you know how you feel about your child - it's not about proof and rewarded for good behavior. I think your mind idea of love is wrong. Looking at all of it - I'm hoping you can see that. Even so, love is never a justification for abuse. You may have to really think honestly about your mothers behavior and relationship to you. It's awful to finally accept that they failed you. But its the only way to break the cycle. Let them take responsibility for their actions and not hide behind your kindness and love anymore.


Your mothers idea of love is wrong - typo


Practically speaking, start showing your strength and dominance. When she phones don't answer until you want to speak with her. Don't see her until you want to. If she is complaining about her depression etc say a scripted phrase - ' your depression is something I am not qualified to deal with' repeat it to her if she keeps complaining. Any visit should be rehearsed in your mind. Think of likely manipulation and prepare to leave when it starts. If you prepare stock phrases it will take the emotion out of the conflict and you say what you need to say. For example ' a child is not responsible for a parents happiness. Only one person controls your happiness and that is you'. Think of her as a child and give her boundaries. If you try scripted responses it will feel awfully staged and wooden but try it a few times and you will see affect on your Mum.


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