How Can I Help An Adult Child With Major Depression?

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It can be very painful to watch your child struggle with major depression issues. While it is difficult to watch a young child have this mental illness, a minor can be forced into treatment against his or her will. An adult child may have just as many problems, if not more, and you can do very little to help them short of finding a judge to commit them against their will. So if you can't force them, what can you do instead? Here are some suggestions:

Come from Their Side
If you want to help your child at all, you need to be on their side and not against it. Instead of letting them know what's wrong with them, talk to them instead about how their action or situation must be painful for them. Don't offer solutions, but ask how they are going to solve their issues or get through the pain of something. Encourage them to solve problems, but don't offer advice until they ask you. Even then, make sure to offer a few things that they could do, but don't tell them what they should do.

Help the Recovery, not the Illness
If your child is not capable of caring for him or herself, but they are also unwilling to take responsibility for their illness and get help, you need to take a step back from supporting their illness. Consider having an intervention with your adult child. Let them know the ways in which their refusal to get help has hurt them and yourselves. Offer help for solutions, like getting treatment, employment, etc. But do not offer to help them destroy themselves. Don't let them stay with you if they refuse to work or try to find a job, or feed them or give them money. Offer them love and let your financial support, if you can and will offer it, be in the form of treatment or education.

Know When to Call a Professional
There comes a point where you may not be able to help your depressed child at all. At that point, you need to decide if it is time to call in a professional to help you. Certain criteria must be met for you to be able to do this. Your child must be a danger to themselves or others, and they must be in a situation where they cannot control their actions without medical intervention. If your child is endangering your grandchildren, you can also call a professional to take them from the bad situation. If none of these fit, however, you can still call a professional to help counsel you on how to watch your child struggle and not let it ruin your own life as well.


Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "How Can I Help An Adult Child With Major Depression?," in, March 25, 2016, (accessed August 7, 2022).