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Living with Depressed Father

Community Member

Hi, bit of a story but I’ll try keep it short.

my father has had depression for 25+ years due to many life factors.

2 years ago he moved to a country town and his depression got worse as he is lonely.

my husband and I and our 2 kids recently moved states and into dads house with him to support him and care for him.

i knew it would be hard but I’m really feeling like I can’t do this anymore. Lately, my dad has been more angry, depressed and sad than usual, he is snappy and take his moods out on me mainly, sometimes the kids. I have tried to talk to him but nothing works and nothing changes. My dad drinks alcohol, he has cut back but still drinks and it makes his depression worse. I have tried talking to him numerous times and I’m always careful with what I say because everything is getting worse. Nothing I say seems to matter or change anything. And when I do talk about it he goes straight on the defensive.

there are other things too, like if we go away for the weekend it’s like dad can’t cope without us or he gets anxious and mad but I need a break sometimes from him and I can’t take him everywhere with me.

its taking a huge toll on my health and I’m worried it’s going to affect my kids. I feel like I should move away to protect my family but in doing so I’m worried it will hurt him immensely. All I want to do is help him but he doesn’t seem to care enough to try. I’m here doing my best to be a supportive daughter but I don’t want it to affect my kids or rip apart my family.

Any advice? I can elaborate further if needed.

thank you

1 Reply 1

Community Member

Hi CountryMum, and I really feel for you in what sounds like a really difficult situation.

I am wondering whether your dad has any social outlets that he can go to. I know from my own experience with depression that it can be really hard to get someone to summon up the motivation to put themselves out there, but the irony is that social connection is really critical to our mental health and wellbeing. Is there a Men's Shed, Bowling Club, church, seniors group etc that he could perhaps join?

My mother moved to a country town about 5 years ago and I am quite surprised at how much social support is provided in her little town. Mum doesn't suffer depression or anxiety, but there is so much available to her that she has something she can attend every day of the week if she needs the company.

I agree with you that it sounds like your dad needs to get a handle on his drinking; self-medicating like this helps initially with the first drink or 2 but overall it is going to make the depression worse.Cutting it out altogether would be ideal, but if he has not a lot else in his life, he may feel that it is his only enjoyment.

Do you think he would agree to talk to a GP? About his drinking and the way he is feeling. A local GP might be able to point him in the direction of some local support networks as well.

As for yourself, it is really important that you look after your own mental health, because if yours is suffering you will not be in a position to provide the support your dad sounds like he needs at this time. You are entitled to take a break - do you have any siblings who could perhaps step up to give you some help with your dad? Alternatively, are there neighbours nearby you could ask just to check in on him, or drop in for a cup of tea?

I hope you are able to get some help for your dad, but your own health is important too.