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Topic: My mother is in denial about depression

7 posts, 0 answered
  1. Anon28
    Anon28 avatar
    2 posts
    16 May 2019


    My mother was diagnosed with depression 6 years ago, and has been on the same dose of medication since then.

    My whole family has realised alot of signs of her depression getting bad again and i have bought it up that maybe she needs help but she is in denial. She gets very defensive and very angry and believes my whole family is selfish. She doesn't see the way she is towards everyone and that she is hurting everyone around her but believes its the other way around and that we are speaking to her badly or are angry at her when we aren't. We all thought we were in the wrong and that we were making her unhappy but realised that we all feel the same and haven't done anything. My question is how do we help her when she doesn't believe she needs it? I know you have to want to help yourself as ive suffered with depression myself. But she strongly believes she is fine when we know she's not. We are all at breaking point. How do we make her realise this isn't how she is meant to feel? That she needs to talk to someone? Everytime its bought up she gets angry but she has never actually spoken to anyone about it apart from taking medication. How do you talk to someone about getting help?

    1 person found this helpful
  2. Peppermintbach
    Valued Contributor
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    Peppermintbach avatar
    4566 posts
    16 May 2019 in reply to Anon28

    Hi Anon28,

    I feel you must be so worried, drained and exhausted. Your mum’s mental health is clearly having an enormous impact on the whole family...I feel for all of you...

    Unfortunately, I believe you are order to be helped, people generally need to want help. This makes it extra tough in your mum’s case as she’s clearly very defensive and doesn’t want help as you said...

    I feel if she’s so defensive and unwilling, my personal opinion is continuing to suggest that she seeks help probably won’t change her mind any time soon. This may or may not work, but I would suggest perhaps a softer, more indirect approach.

    For example, I wonder if you could print helpline numbers, contacts for medical professionals, depression info and fact sheets (e.g. from BeyondBlue, etc), etc and leave it around her house. You could say something simple like you’re concerned, and just want to make sure if she ever decides to get help that there will be resources at her finger tip so you have some printouts for her...maybe add something about how you’re not trying to upset her but you’re just worried...

    Alternatively, maybe you could anonymously put various mental health related resources (brochures, flyers, printouts from reputable mental health organisations, etc) in her letterbox...

    I don’t know if this would help or not. It’s just a little idea...Thinking of you and your family...

    Kind thoughts,


  3. Harrison_M
    Harrison_M avatar
    3 posts
    17 May 2019 in reply to Anon28

    Hey Anon28,

    Thanks for coming to BlueVoice

    Quite frankly, my mother is awfully similar, its a bad state to see a family member in but they won't admit and will either appear strong or angry, maybe strong to try to look like nothing is affecting them, or angry that someone is giving them a title as 'depressed' and quite frankly its not a kind thing to be titled as. My best wishes are out to your mother and the rest of your family in this situation. But for my case we just would bring it up but no to much, bringing it up to much will only bring hurt (and because your trying to help her meaning you have her best interests at heart) so don't constantly bring it up, if possible even just try to sit down and explain to your mother why she needs this and how it affects you, you need her to understand or even try to find a way to inform her that there are services available 24/7 like BlueVoices that can help anyone. Good luck and best wishes are out to you and your family, please do reply back on progression if looking for further help

    Thanks for posting

    Sincerely, Harrison

  4. geoff
    Life Member
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    geoff avatar
    15585 posts
    17 May 2019 in reply to Anon28

    Hi Anon, thanks for coming to the forums.

    I think one problem maybe is that once someone has been diagnosed with depression, taking their medication they get their back up when anyone tells them that their condition has worsened, that's where the denial comes into it.

    Once she is in denial she's trying to protect herself by refusing the fact that that's happening, it's her defence in developing her own strategies to reduce the stress and help her way to cope, but actually, it only makes her go around in circles, with the possibility of becoming worse.

    When is she due for another script, maybe you could tell her that she needs to see her doctor.

    Her belief is that she is taking the medication so she is OK but remember people can become used to taking the same amount of AD's and their bodily symptoms don't react as they once did, so she may need an increase in dosage.

    That's another suggestion to say to her, that she's been on the same dosage and you need to have a review, and it's not her that needs this all of us should have our AD's reviewed by our doctor.

    Take care.


  5. White Rose
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
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    White Rose avatar
    6325 posts
    17 May 2019 in reply to geoff

    Dear Anon

    Welcome to the forum. It is sticky place to be I know and I have found myself being cranky because of my depression. It was so often a defence mechanism because I already felt to bad about it and I was also ashamed that I was depressed. Community attitudes towards any mental illness are changing but it's a slow process. You mom would have been brought up to be disgusted at anyone who 'allowed' themselves to be depressed. Getting meds in the first place would have been a huge step for her.

    You don't mention your father. May I ask if he is till around? Is the worsening depression connected to him in any way? No need to write anything you do not want to write but it may help to think about this.

    Can you remember how mom was at the start of her depression? The other replies have suggested some strategies and I agree that to keep telling her she needs help is more likely to make her more determined to manage on her own.

    Can you sit her down and talk in a way that does not sound as though you are telling her what to do. Remind her gently how unwell she was originally and how the meds helped. When she needs a new script ask if you can see the doctor with her to give her support in talking about how she is going. Let the doctor decide whether or not mom needs more than medication or a change of meds.

    Geoff has pointed out that meds need reviewing and maybe it's time for a change of medication. See what the doctor says. I understand how difficult this situation is when you can see so clearly she is not doing well. Mom cannot see this. I often tell my daughter she thinks she is my mom. Fortunately she understands me and I know her 'nagging' comes from love and concern. Tell your mom how much you love her and want the best. Let her get used to that idea and try to be patient. Tell your family or show them this thread. If everyone backs off a little you may get a better result.

    I hope these replies have been useful. Would love to hear from you again.


  6. Anon28
    Anon28 avatar
    2 posts
    17 May 2019

    Hi everyone thankyou so much for all your advise. She has only just been to the doctor for a new script. Let me give a bit of background in what has happened over the last year. Its been tough not only for her but for all of us. My father was diagnosed with cancer last year in march. He then had surgery and then had to have a stoma bag attached. This made him feel down. He was cleared of cancer in January this year and is having surgery next week to remove the bag. My mums friend died of cancer last year and they have also lost a friend to cancer a few years ago. So i understand that its been tough for her but i feel that we have all expressed and dealt with what happened but she still hasnt. I think its more about her talking to someone than anything but i try and talk to her and ask how shes doing and she says im fine and them blocks her guard i have told her it might help to talk to someone as a lot has gone on but she won't. We all did back off and now anything and everything we say she takes the wrong way. The littlest of things she gets angry and we just don't know how to even speak to her at all without something bad coming of it.

    For example; my father and i had organised to go somewhere to take some photos and i said why dont we all go and have a bbq and we can take photos. She got angry and said no you go ill stay home.

    My father rang me yesterday and he is ready to leave as he just is sick of being spoken to like he does something wrong everytime he opens his mouth and after the year he has had i honestly don't blame him.

    I will show everyone else this thread and thankyou all for your suggestions

  7. White Rose
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    White Rose avatar
    6325 posts
    19 May 2019 in reply to Anon28

    Thanks for your reply Anon. Your parents and family have certainly had a rough time.

    With your mom I get the sense that she is very afraid of losing control of her life. The loss of her friends and the serious nature of your dad's illness must have been a huge shock and strain for her. Some people just cannot allow themselves to let go a little in case they lose the plot altogether. So to keep themselves 'safe' they push others away by being angry and non communicative. As you can see it does not work for the family and does not work for mom either though she cannot see it.

    I hope your dad does not leave as this may well prove to mom that she is not worthwhile. However I can appreciate how frustrated and upset he is getting. Can you have a chat with your mom's GP? Not sure if the GP will talk about your mom but may be happy to let you tell him/her what's going on. You will need to ask about this. The GP may be able to suggest strategies to you without compromising confidentiality. You can only try.

    So pleased you are going to share this thread with the family. I hope it will help you all to brainstorm some ideas on how to help mom.Love to know how it all goes.

    My best wishes to all of you.


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