Many people suffering from depression don’t seriously contemplate treatment when considering only themselves and their own experience of life. This truth is sad, of course, but also consistent with the effects of depression itself.
For such people, sometimes only when they perceive how the disease has negatively impacted others (e.g., family relationships, job performance) do they “surrender” to treatment. And afterwards, they regret having held out for so long, especially when they regain some of the self-worth stolen from them by their depression.
Can you relate to this pattern? If you personally suffer from depression:
- Have you resisted treatment?
- Have you later regarded that resistance with shame or guilt?
- What was the pivotal experience that opened you to treatment?
If you are close to someone who suffers from depression:
- Have you been frustrated or challenged by the person’s resistance to treatment?
- What forms did the person’s resistance take, and how did you react?
- How did the symptoms of their depression affect your relationship with them?
To underscore the high stakes of this issue, here’s new evidence that post-partum depression can actually have measurable, life-long effects on the quality of a mother-child relationship. Even more sobering, the study suggests that the effects can be multi-generational, impacting the depressed mother’s eventual relationships with grandchildren:
For many who struggle with depression (and anxiety), part of the resistance to treatment stems from a resistance to the idea of medication. These persons may describe notions that “escaping” depression through medication is somehow a cop-out, an artificial short-cut to dealing with “the real issues”. They may be suspicious that anti-depressant medications, in relieving symptoms, will also make them somehow not “themselves”. While these concerns and other, similar ones should be heard and are worthy of discussion—taking any medication for any condition involves both costs and benefits—they should not represent a persistent barrier to seeking treatment. Treatment for depression can take many forms, and the simple act of seriously seeking treatment can be therapeutic in and of itself.
So, what to do if someone close to you is depressed and resistant to treatment? Banging them over the head about the potential for multi-generational harm is probably not the way to start! Gently reminding them—if resistance to medication seems to be an issue—that seeking treatment is just the beginning of an open journey, with no pre-conceived notions or prescriptions, is likely a good idea. As this helpful article reminds us, there is no magic bullet for persuading one who suffers to accept the help they need:
Some moments, some conversations, are more fertile territory for change and a hopeful turn than others. Patience and perceptiveness are key—as well as ensuring that you’ve adequately addressed your own emotional needs.
And we at Neurologics stand ready to assist.