How to Keep Depression From Negatively Impacting Your Family

It’s the season of thanksgiving and glad tidings! Well … not necessarily. For those struggling with depression, we may know these are important months, but we don’t feel delight. Instead, we see others joyfully baking pies and wrapping presents.

The apparent ease of their happiness can be a stinging reminder of how hard we have to work to overcome depression. At the same time, we love our people and would never deny them goodness. It’s bad enough having to cope with our debilitating feelings — the added thought that we might be making life difficult for our family is almost too much to bear.

But awareness is half the battle won. And we’re on the right track when we have the sensitivity to ask, How is my mood affecting my spouse and kids?

Five ways to help your family as you respond to a struggle with depression

  • Lean on God. Ask Him for strength to participate in holiday gatherings and activities to the extent you’re able. And when it feels like more than you can handle, ask for the grace to support your loved ones as they go. God is still with you in the darkness, and He’ll provide everything you need.
  • Remember that depression can distort perceptions. Ask your spouse or a close loved one for their objective perspective on how your depression is affecting those around you. It might not be as much as you think. Distorted thinking can cause unnecessary worry or guilt.
  • Be proactive. Be honest with your loved ones (more on that in the next points) and with yourself. Make an effort to understand mental illness, and make sure you reach out for professional help.
  • If you’re married, let your spouse know what you’re doing to combat depression. When they see that you’re serious about addressing these challenges, they’re likely to feel more valued and hopeful. They might also be open to ways they can help you in the battle.
  • Talk to your kids. You might talk with older children about what depression and anxiety are and how you feel. And you could tell a younger child, You know how Daddy has been feeling really sad lately? It doesn’t have anything to do with you or Mommy; it’s just the way I get sometimes. But I want you to know I’m seeing a doctor who is helping me to get better. These conversations can help your kids grow in the truth of God’s faithful care.

Don’t underestimate your family’s love

The best way to reduce the risk of your depression negatively impacting your family is to have open communication. You’ll be surprised at how much this can mean. When you talk with loved ones about your struggles and reassure them that you’re getting help, you’ll give them the gift of hope. And in the end, you’ll all be stronger when you face the situation together.

You’re not alone in dealing with the ups and downs of depression. Would you like to dig deeper? Listen to “When Darkness Falls” with Pastor Louie Giglio, and read Happiness by Randy Alcorn.