Help with a relative suffering from depression (maybe)?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Abstract, Mar 31, 2007.

  1. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I want to know whether someone can tell me if this is considered depression, and what I should do. I have a relative who is 24. It has been around 2 years since he graduated, but he hasn't found a job. He never goes out because he has no reason to. He never used to go out with friends because he has never really been the type to go out, meet new people, go to bars, etc. He likes staying at home, which is fine with me if he's happy that way. However, not going outside for almost 2 years is a bit much, so of course we're worried. :eek: At least he used to walk his dog, but the dog is getting very old and doesn't want to walk a lot.

    He wants to find any job that requires a degree, but he can't find anything, and I don't know why. I think he has been to workshops to help him with his resumé/CV, but he doesn't get through the interview. Maybe his confidence is entirely shot, and he's getting worse at interviews. I'm not sure. He might be getting better, but not good enough at them. (???)

    I don't know what else to say. Supposedly, he also looks very unhealthy and pale. He lives with his parents, and just eats whenever he wants (he doesn't have a strict schedule). He doesn't talk much, either. If they suggest something to him (eg: Go to a gym (he looks unhealthy). Travel on vacation (parents will pay). Travel to another city/country to find any job (degree or no degree required)), he doesn't answer or even look in their direction.

    I just want to know how to get him to a psychiatrist. :eek: I mean, it's a bit unfair, actually. First, we need to get him to a regular doctor, get a referral, and then get him to a psychiatrist. How can we get him to go to 2 doctors if he doesn't even go outside? :confused: If we could take him straight to a psychiatrist, I think it'd be easier, but we need to somehow get him to 2 different doctors on 2 separate days?

    I have been asked to ask him to go see a psychiatrist. I'm afraid of doing so because......well, it sounds a bit insulting if you think about it. "Everyone thinks you're messed up, so please go." Even sugarcoating it and introducing the idea of a psychiatrist in a friendlier way would sound bad to the listener. :eek:

    I've suggested brute force. It's tough love. Just drag his ass to the doctor twice. Yes, he's an adult, but everyone is doing it for his benefit, as he would never go if he's just asked to go.
  2. iBlue macrumors Core


    Mar 17, 2005
    London, England
    He does sound depressed. Some people just aren't real social or ambitious but this sounds rather bad and out of the ordinary for this guy (?)

    So, it's been over the last 2 years, or was this a previous thing at all? Has anyone spoken to him about it?

    Does he have medical insurance? (not sure the location here) Sometimes referrals aren't necessary in some cases, based on insurance coverage.

    Do some of the leg-work of finding a GP and a psychiatrist. that might be the best help for someone not really reaching out on his own.

    Sorry, not entirely sure what else to suggest but I think you're on the right track with this. Reclusiveness on this level isn't healthy.
  3. Abstract thread starter macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    He's in Canada. In Canada, apparently you need to get a referral. If you go see a psychiatrist without one, you need to pay for the entire bill. If you get a referral, you only need to pay a small portion of it (around half). Not sure on the exact figures. He has a GP, so that's also not a problem. Finding a psychiatrist probably wouldn't be a problem, either. Getting him to go is, though. If he doesn't even answer back or look at you when you talk to him, how is anyone going to convince him to get into the car?

    I wouldn't say this was a previous thing because I actually think reclusiveness is normal. It's just their personality. However, what's going on now isn't normal. He never leaves the house. Actually, he rarely leaves his bedroom (which has a computer). If he needs to buy something, he just buys it through the internet.
  4. thedude110 macrumors 68020


    Jun 13, 2005
    Sorry your friend is in a dark place, and sorry you've been put in the position you've been put in.

    Can tell you that when I'm trying to get an adolescent to see a counselor, I always tell them "It can't hurt to know more about yourself -- and it can only hurt you if you don't know yourself well enough." I'm not sure I believe that's true (I stole it), but it helps resistant kids push beyond some initial misconceptions about what counselling is/isn't. I'd also second iBlue's suggestion of doing some of the initial leg-work for him -- that type of action goes a long way toward showing the depth of your care and concern.

    Before you do that, though -- have you talked to him about your concerns? Reached out and expressed yourself in a transparent way? Seems like a lot of folks are talking around your friend's depression rather than addressing it directly. Depends on the person, of course, but a best first step might be to make it clear that you're concerned and willing to listen. That's not gonna fix things, but it could make a huge difference depending on where your friend is in his head and life.
  5. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000


    Feb 17, 2006
    Clovis, California
    I'm afraid I can't be much help either. The way you describe your friend, you could very well be describing me. :(
  6. iSaint macrumors 603


    May 26, 2004
    South Mississippi y'all, near the water!
    You could help by describing your situation. Have you been able to get help? :eek: What's your current situation?

    I'm moderately depressed. I sought out help five years ago. I'm much better, but I really should do more counseling. It's getting there that's the hard part.
  7. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Feb 14, 2004
    OBJECTIVE reality
    I have chronic depression, and the signs you list are very familiar to me.

    You're right in saying that as his depression deepens, he'll do worse and worse in job interviews. Companies like people that exude competence and confidence. Therefore for him, this depression is keeping him unemployed.

    You may have to do an alcoholism-style "intervention" to get him to a doctor. He is probably not seeing things realistically right now. What you need most of all right now is patience and understanding. From my own experience, getting frustrated and angry with him because he won't help himself is not going to help, it's only going to make the problem worse. You've got a lot of begging and pleading ahead of you, but eventually he will likely listen.

    If you're not doing it already, also make clear to him that depression is a biochemical imbalance that many people get. It does not reflect badly on his character; he is not a wimp, and he is not crazy. He just has a disease. Not understanding that is what keeps many people from going to the doctor. They fear being diagnosed as crazy.
  8. Abstract thread starter macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Doesn't sound good. How am I supposed to have an intervention with this relative from halfway across the world?

    The faster he finds help, the better it is. I've always been a bit afraid that one day, I'll hear that he completely lost it, locked himself into a room and commits suicide, having given up all hope.

    I'll definitely talk about how this sort of thing is more common than he thinks, and that it's psychological and not his fault. After all, I have ADD, and I don't think that imbalance is my fault. Ritalin is truly a saviour for me. Will meds like Prozac help him? Maybe if he takes medication of some sort, he'll have a better chance at job interviews. Once he gets a job, maybe things will be sorted. (?)
  9. bartelby macrumors Core


    Jun 16, 2004
    Well it doesn't sound like he's Bi-Polar so that is slightly on the upside (no pun intended) he could have Dysthymic Disorder, which is a chronic depression which is basically summed up a having a lack of enjoyment in life.

  10. yadmonkey macrumors 65816


    Aug 13, 2002
    Western Spiral
    First a disclaimer: I don't know sh*t. I don't know anything about the case you've described except for a couple of paragraphs, so all I can offer you are some thoughts from my limited experience in the world.

    Personally, I think a psychologist should usually be a last resort. I'm sure they help some people, but I think someone like you're describing is probably already introspective enough. It's easy to get depressed if you think your life lacks meaning and I doubt that all the psychoanalasis in the world will help most people in this situation.

    But people don't really need meaning. They need experiences that make them feel vital and alive. When you have these experiences, you're not looking for meaning. So I doubt that years "on the couch" in the psychologist's office are going to give many people confidence. In fact, what's the difference if you're on the couch at home or on the couch at the shrink's place? Confidence comes from doing things which challenge you and following paths which inspire you.

    I could be wrong about this case in particular, but generally, if someone isn't doing anything with their lives, then they usually fall into two categories:

    1. They don't know what they want to do with their lives.
    2. They have an idea, but lack the confidence to pursue it.

    Either way, the answer is often the same: find something which challenges and inspires you. Climb a mountain, read a good book, learn a musical instrument, travel somewhere alone, etc. When you are feeling inspired after overcoming a challenge, then your heart and mind are open and you can more easily and honestly deal with the problem. You might then have the clarity to fearlessly acknowledge the path you wish to pursue. Or at least the confidence to take some risks. It's a starting point.

    Psychoanalasis is intellectual. Confidence is not. I'd take the simplest route first and look for things which bolster confidence and get the oxygen flowing.
  11. bartelby macrumors Core


    Jun 16, 2004
    It's a good job you had that first line in there!

    True depression has nothing to do with life experiences etc. As already pointed out it's a chemical imbalance. In a lot of cases it's because Serotonin is reabsorbed too quickly from the blood, Hence SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Generally people who think depression is just someone feeling down for a few days who should find something to do are very ignorant.
  12. yadmonkey macrumors 65816


    Aug 13, 2002
    Western Spiral
    That's why I had the disclaimer. But I think it's a little odd to say true depression IS necessarily one thing or another. And neither of us is qualified to say if this person is even truly depressed. Sure, there are people who are chemically imbalanced and need professional help, but there are plenty of people with longterm depression who are simply in a rut. They lack confidence to go forward. I was one of these people.

    I was depressed for years and it wasn't a pill that dragged me out of it. It was confidence-building experiences and self-discovery. I'm not going to say that this is necessarily true for everyone, but of course it's true for many.
  13. bartelby macrumors Core


    Jun 16, 2004
    Well I've had depression for well over 20 years, I've never felt stuck in a rut and I'm a very confident person (most of the time). Meds don't do much for me, except stopping me from doing really a really dumb thing.

    Low self esteem is a symptom of depression but not the defining one.
  14. Sherman Homan macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2006
    Look at the response you have had from all the way around the world! Strangers at that. Intervene. And best of luck. Best of luck to you and him.
  15. aussie_geek macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2004
    Sydney Australia
    yep - definitely depression. i have bipolar disorder and know it all too well.

    putting it bluntly, no stuffing around. he has been "in the hole" for too long. it's time for action here mate. do whatever it takes to get him to the doctor. he needs counselling and medication. weekly visits at first for a month or two to get the meds right and then monthly visits for 6 months.

    the fact that he is not leaving the house sounds like the beginnings of agoraphobia. so action is definitely necessary so that he has any chance of re-integrating into society.

    you and the family may have to literally drag him to the dr's. this is not uncommon. in one of the above posts you mentioned that the family is overseas. they need to stop what they are doing and come and rescue their son. this is a serious issue mate. the longer he is in this way, the harder he will find it to re-integrate into society.

    one problem with people who have their first episode is their pride. it is a natural response that cannot be avoided. however, this must be put behind them. it will take time for him to mentally process and accept that he is unwell. support will be needed as well. if there are prescriptions for meds (anti d's) they must be adhered to strictly. they usually take at least 2 weeks to a month to kick into effect and may have to be taken for up to 2 years. i have been on an ssnri as well as 2 mood stabilisers for over 4 years. it took 6 months of trial and error to find the perfect med combo.

    good luck mate!! :)
  16. Legolamb macrumors 6502a


    Nov 27, 2006
    North of where I'd like to be
    This must be hard for you, watching someone you know and love slowly unravel. Hey, I don't even know the guy, and I'm moved to want to do something. I honestly don't know if I would have responded to someone else telling me I had to get some help. Only you can decide how "draggable" he is.

    From a "been-there, have-that" perspective, depression is NOT the same as sadness, boredom, or laziness. Chemically depressed people cannot "feel" novel or challenging experiences, or talk themselves out of it.
    From what you describe, he may also have a low self-esteem personality. In and of itself, low self-esteem does not preclude being ambitious or achieving greatness. And if he gets help, neither does having depression.

    Regarding the "unfairness" of seeing two doctors, if he had developed a chronic cough, he'd first go to his GP, who would then have him consult a pulmonologist.
    Also, like Thomas Veil said, depression is just a disease. We just tend to invest elaborate meaning into it.
  17. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Do a bit of research; there are usually support societies in each town that provide support to individuals and their families, start looking with the local hospital.

    Contact the GP- they won't be able to discuss the patient with you but they can listen to your concerns and give you contact numbers for resources. You MAY be able to convince the GP to do a house call or refer a social worker who can - the local regional health district has home-call workers.

    The Canadian health system is slow and bureaucratic but at least it doesn't take a pile of money to get help for someone in need.

    If the person is a clear danger to themselves or others then the police can be called for an involuntary apprehension and appraisal however that doesn't sound like where he is at.

    There are many avenues other than a psych-iatr/olog-ist; counselling, group therapy, etc. which can be less confontational. In some towns there are drop in centres, in Victoria the local society sponsors a movie night every week. Of course if any drug therapy is to be prescribed, then a doctor will need to be involved. But the threshold is to first get him talking with someone, then the next steps will come.

    Find out 1st what resources are available, that will help you decide on a low-impact approach to try.

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