Sadness is a perfectly normal and healthy emotion. Even so, it can be unsettling to watch someone you care about, especially a parent, experience sadness. If you’re not sure if your parent is depressed, look for signs. Then, do your best to assist them in coping with their grief. Sadness, on the other hand, can resemble depression. As a result, it may be prudent to keep a close eye on your parent over time to ensure that their mood and functioning do not deteriorate.
Method 1 Noticing Sad Behavior
1. Keep an eye out for any deviations from their usual behaviour. Sadness frequently causes subtle changes in your parent’s behaviour. For example, they may normally be very talkative, but they have recently been quiet. Keep an eye out for any noticeable changes in their usual behaviour or routines.
Think about whether they are ruminating on an event or a conversation. This could also be an indication of sadness.
2. Keep an eye out for signs of crying. A depressed parent may cry a lot. You may notice that their eyes are puffy and red. There could be used tissues all around their favourite chair. You might even catch a glimpse of them sobbing.
This can be upsetting, but crying isn’t always a bad thing. It indicates that they are releasing painful emotions.
3. Check to see if they have difficulty listening or paying attention. Many people who are depressed may be preoccupied with what is bothering them. As a result, you may notice that your parent has difficulty focusing during a conversation or while working.
For instance, you could be telling your mother about your day when you notice her staring off into space. “Mom?” you might wonder. “Did you hear me?” she asks, before snapping back to attention.
4. Take note if they begin to withdraw from friends and family. A depressed person may not want to be in the company of others. They may prefer to be alone with their thoughts, or they may simply dislike pretending to be happy. Your mother or father may spend a lot of time alone, away from others.
You may also notice them not answering the phone or turning away visitors.
Isolation in any form is cause for concern, so consider how often your parent is alone.
5. Examine their sleeping and eating habits. If your parent is depressed, they may have trouble sleeping, which means you may hear them moving around in the middle of the night. They may also oversleep and be unwilling to get out of bed. Furthermore, a depressed parent may not eat much at dinner or may eat a lot of junk food to numb their feelings.
6. Consider any sources of stress in their lives. Major and minor sources of stress can both contribute to depression, so consider what has recently occurred in your parent’s life. Consider how they are coping if they have experienced any major stressors, such as losing a loved one, moving, or going through a breakup or divorce.
7. Take note of their medication’s side effects. Another factor to consider is that some medications can cause feelings of sadness or depression. Look into the potential side effects of your parents’ medications to see if they are at a higher risk of depression.
Method 2 Trying to Help
1. Check to see if they want to talk. If you notice your parent is depressed, it may be a good idea to reach out to them. Go to them and tell them you’ve noticed a change in their behaviour. Inquire if they would like to discuss it with you.
If you believe you know what is causing the sadness—for example, a death in the family, a job loss, or a breakup or divorce—ask if they are sad about it.
For example, you could say, “Dad, I know you’ve been through a lot since Mom left.” I’m here to help you. Do you want to talk about it?”
Your parent may not want to talk to you about what is causing them to be sad because they do not want you to be concerned.
2. Inquire about what you can do to assist. Aside from talking to them about it, you could also see if you can help in any other way. Bring certain items to your parent if you know they will be comforted by them. Otherwise, you could simply come out and ask how you can assist.
You could bring your mother her favourite blanket and a cup of chamomile tea.
“I can tell you’re sad,” you could say. “What can I do to assist?”
3. Allow them some space. In some cases, no matter what you do, your parent may simply prefer to be alone. That is perfectly acceptable. Taking time alone to fully process negative emotions can assist them in moving past them.
If your parent declines your offer to assist, simply give them some space. “OK, I’ll give you some space,” you might say. But if you need me, I’m right downstairs.”
4. Recognize that fixing things is not your responsibility. It’s natural to be concerned about your parent and want to make them feel better. However, you should be aware that this is not your responsibility. Continue to live your life as you normally would.
You can keep yourself busy by doing your homework and chores, participating in extracurricular activities, and hanging out with friends, for example.
Method 3 Monitoring Them Long-Term
1. Understand the distinction between sadness and depression. It’s critical to be able to distinguish between sadness and depression, as these two emotional states are frequently confused. The key is to recognise that sadness frequently has a specific cause, such as a loss of some kind. Depression, on the other hand, may occur for no apparent reason and the person appears to be sad about everything.
Depression is frequently characterised by intense sadness, as well as feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. These feelings can last for several days to weeks and can disrupt a person’s daily activities.
If there is no obvious cause for your parent’s sadness, they may be suffering from depression and require professional assistance.
2. Keep an eye out for signs of unhealthy coping. Your parent may struggle to cope with their sadness and resort to negative coping strategies. Abusing alcohol or drugs, bingeing, or gambling may help them cope with their sadness. Attempting to avoid the negative emotion, on the other hand, can exacerbate the problem.
If you’ve witnessed your parent abusing alcohol or drugs or engaging in other unhealthy coping strategies, tell another adult what you’ve witnessed.
3. Inform your parent of your concerns. If your parent’s sadness lasts for weeks and they don’t seem to be getting better, they may be suffering from depression. You could approach them and express your concerns. Make an appointment for them to see a doctor or a mental health professional.
“Dad, I’m really worried about you,” you might say. You’ve been absent from work frequently, and I know you’re not sleeping. I’d feel better if you went to the doctor.”
4. Speak with a responsible adult. If your parent does not listen to your advice, you may need to involve another adult. Choose someone you can rely on, such as another parent, an uncle or aunt, a grandparent, or a school counsellor. Tell them about your parent’s situation.
For example, you could say something like, “Grandma, I’m really worried about mom.” She hasn’t eaten, slept, or even left her room in a long time. “I believe she requires assistance.”
If the adult you speak with does nothing, tell someone else.
5. Request permission from your parents to see a therapist. A trained mental health professional can assist you in coping with the stress of having a sad or depressed parent. Ask your parent to make an appointment so you can talk to someone about what’s going on, or see if another relative can do it for you.
Furthermore, unless you or someone else is in immediate danger, this person will generally keep whatever you say to them confidential.
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