Being diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions can change your life. Mental disorders are not just an emotional but also an economic burden, which pertains to direct healthcare costs and indirect costs like lost income and out-of-pocket spending on healthcare.
Mental health conditions also take a huge emotional and physical toll on family members and friends. But you don’t have to suffer in silence or sacrifice your own well-being when someone in your family has been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition. Here are a few ways you can cope.
Learn as much as you can about the condition
Suppose a family member of yours has been diagnosed with depressive disorder. It would greatly help you and your family to learn critical information regarding its symptoms, possible causes, diagnosis, and treatments. Knowing a few common symptoms of depression like feelings of sadness and lack of energy may help, but you’ll be much better equipped to handle particularly difficult episodes if you know much more about the condition.
Furthermore, understanding the factors that contribute to depression — including brain changes, trauma at an early age, genetics, other medical conditions, and other factors that are not within anyone’s control — helps remove any feelings of guilt in any of the family members.
Discuss it with a family member
A family member’s mental health is not the easiest topic to broach. It may be challenging for some families to accept the diagnosis, overcome any perceived stigma, and act as a strong unit. However, evading or delaying any conversation about the situation isn’t going to help, either.
Having an honest conversation is crucial to the recovery of your loved one. Talking about mental health issues paves the way for early treatment and may even save that person’s life. If you’re having difficulties starting a sensitive conversation, refer to this useful guide on how to start a conversation about mental health.
Encourage your loved one to seek professional help
According to a report by the World Health Organization, nearly two-thirds of people with mental disorders never seek professional help because of stigma, discrimination, and neglect. This is likely to worsen the condition due to lack of treatment and care. This shouldn’t be the case, as most mental disorders such as depression can be successfully treated with the proper combination of medication and therapy, enabling those with a disorder to live much better lives.
Join a support group
Consider joining a support group for family members of people who are diagnosed with a mental health condition. Opening up to people who went through the same situation lets you work through your emotions, whether it’s shame, anger, or hurt. Finding the right support eases some of the burdens and is a good way to take care of yourself, as well.
Ask local hospitals or consult a mental health agency about support groups that you can join. In Chicago, for instance, you can contact the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness to get recommendations on support groups for individuals recovering from mental health conditions, and their loved ones.
Seek help for yourself
Caring for someone with mental health issues presents not just emotional but also logistical problems. Whether you’re a spouse, parent, brother, or sister to someone with an illness, your lifestyle will be affected. You may need to adjust your schedule to help drive the patient to therapy appointments, pick up medication, and the like. It’s important that you take care of your own needs too so you can take care of others’.
Get enough sleep and eat healthy meals regularly. Keep your stress levels low by occasionally doing things you enjoy. Practice self-care to help your loved ones. Families should still be able to lead fulfilling lives even while coping with a loved one’s mental health condition.
It’s important to learn how symptoms of psychiatric conditions interfere with interpersonal relationships with one’s family, friends, and colleagues. Meridian Psychiatric Partners LLC’s mental health professionals offer comprehensive assessments and personalized treatments and serve clients in Chicago, Evanston, and Lake Forest. Talk to us today to learn more.