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peggylou's avatar

How do you help a 19-year-old young man who has been depressed for years?

Asked by peggylou (1136points) January 15th, 2007
In the past, I have taken him to a psychiatrist who has given him medication for depression. But he stopped taking the medicine and stopped going to the doctor. He is my grandson. I feel like he won't help himself in his life. What can I do?
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9 Answers

gailcalled's avatar
I have a friend w. a 40 year-old son w. similar problems. She had to let him hit bottom (which was VERY hard on the family.) Then he responded eventually to social workers and other neutral care givers. His mother ostensibly kept her distance from him and worked behind the scenes. It took a couple of years and now he is living independently, integrated w. his family and holding down a modest but worthwhile job..I am sorry for all....depression and mental illness can be intractable. Good luck.
gailcalled's avatar
PS. He gets some financial aid from the county and state since his wages aren't enough. And the family helps out, too.
sjg102379's avatar
Because people who are depressed often have difficulty with apathy, lethargy, and planning/follow-through, sometimes they require a lot more "prodding" than you would normally give a grown person. As a social worker, I try to sit down with my clients to figure out what their needs are, what steps the client can take to meet them, and then I ride them pretty hard (although it's also important to be realistic about their limitations that stem from the depression) to make sure they're doing what they need to be doing. However, the sort-of good thing about clinical depression is that it goes in waves--generally people improve somewhat within six months or so even without any treatment, but obviously the risk of a relapse is much larger, and there is always concern about suicidal ideation when depression goes untreated.
hossman's avatar
I usually find loudly singing "The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow" in my best Ethel Merman impression works. The song doesn't cheer them up, but usually punching me in the nose does. Just kidding. Hugs and kisses are widely acknowledged by the medical community to be the grandmom's best therapy. And comfort food. And you were wondering how I got so - ahem - prosperous around the middle?
irishdevil99's avatar
Be patient with him, and I'd agree with sjg... depression does tend to go hand in hand with apathy, lethargy, and a difficulty with following through. I went through something similar in college, and it seriously affected my grades. I would miss a class, and then feel so horrible about it that I wouldn't go again for two weeks rather than face the professor. It got worse as college went on. I went through cycles, but nothing really improved until I actually failed a couple of classes and had to take a year off. I went home, lived with my parents, and worked a job while taking classes at a local university. The experience changed me completely. I haven't had a relapse since. I think what did it in my case was not so much the hitting bottom -- though that certainly wasn't a pleasant experience -- but the reintroduction to a structured life. Knowing that I had to get to work or class on time and knowing that I couldn't just skip without any consequences was enough for me to pull out of it. I also went through some counseling during that period, but it never seemed overly productive. Maybe I'm shortchanging it, but I don't really think that was the answer for me.
artemisdivine's avatar

The great thing is now there are TONS of resources online to learn more. Depression, or any mood disorder, is extremely cruel in that other people CANNOT SEE IT so some do not even believe it is real. It is not something you “just snap out of”. Most people have no clue what it is like. It is not just being sad or unhappy. Its as if someone has stolen your soul, your very existence, even though you look the same on the outside.

10 Things You Can Do to Overcome Depression
By Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D., C. Psych.

Founder, The International Network on Personal Meaning

This morning, I met with a client suffering from depression. Nothing seems going well in his work or marriage. His health is also deteriorating. With so much negativity in his life, it is not difficult to understand why he feels depressed. He has been seeing a psychiatrist who prescribes medication. Anti-depressant drugs make him feel calmer but fail to inject any sense of joy or energy into his daily life.

At the end of the session, I suggested that he needed to do something positive and meaningful each day in order to facilitate recovery. Here is a list of 10 things most people can do.

Express gratitude to someone or to God for one good thing in you life.
Recall something good or meaningful you have done in the past.
Say or do something kind to someone.
Talk to someone you like, a friend or a family member.
Appreciate something beautiful in nature.
Enjoy something from the arts and entertainment.
Complete a task well, no matter how small.
Go for a walk or do some exercise.
Say something positive to yourself.
Daydream or visualize what a happy life looks like.

These ten steps are not intended to replace drug therapy or talk therapy; they are simply baby steps that facilitate recovery. Practicing any combination of the above 10 things can help create positive feelings, because they add positive meanings to your existence.

Research has shown that meaningful moments or activities are the most effective antidotes to negative thoughts and feelings. More importantly, the above simple exercise can initiate the process of an inner transformation that enables you to face the problems of human existence with a more positive frame of mind.

The diagnosis and treatment of depression and other psychiatric disorders requires trained medical professionals. The information provided below is to be used for educational purposes only. It should NOT be used as a substitute for seeking professional care for the diagnosis and treatment of any medical/psychiatric disorder. The potential risks associated with improper diagnosis or treatment can only be minimized by consultations with mental health professionals. Physicians should check standard medical texts, for dosages, indications and contraindications, prior to prescribing any drug.


Percentage of mental illness in a lifetime per country:

Brazil 36.3%
Canada 37.5%
Netherlands 40.9%
USA 48.6%
Mexico 22.2%
Turkey 12.2%

The year it is predicted that depression will become the second leading cause of disability in the world (next to heart disease): 2020

Source: Gender and women’s health, A WHO publication available at:

About Mood Disorders
Learn more about mood disorders:
Visit DBSA’s Screening Center to take a free and confidential mood disorder screener.

Request a Letter of Hope
from General Hospital actor Maurice Bernard.

Depression and bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) are both highly treatable medical illnesses. Unfortunately many people do not get the help they need because of the misunderstanding surrounding the illnesses or the fear associated with stigma. The following are brief descriptions of depression and bipolar disorder. For more in-depth information be sure to see our pages on depression and bipolar disorder.

Depression: It’s Not Just In Your Head
Everyone, at various times in life, feels sad or blue. It’s normal to feel sad on occasion. Sometimes this sadness comes from things that happen in your life: you move to a different city and leave friends behind, you lose your job or a loved one dies. But what’s the difference between “normal” feelings of sadness and the feelings caused by clinical depression?

How intense the mood is: depression is more intense than a simple bad mood.
How long the mood lasts: a bad mood is usually gone in a few days, but depression lasts for two weeks or longer.
How much it interferes with your life: a bad mood does not keep you from going to work or school or spending time with friends. Depression can keep you from doing these things and may even make it difficult to get out of bed.
While it’s normal for people to experience ups and downs during their lives, those who have depression experience specific symptoms daily for two weeks or more, making it difficult to function at work, at school or in relationships.

Depression is a treatable illness marked by changes in mood, thought and behavior. That’s why it’s called a mood disorder.

People of all ages, races, ethnic groups and social classes have depression. Although it can occur at any age, the illness often develops between the ages of 25 and 44. The lifetime prevalence of depression is 24 percent for women and 15 percent for men.



Depression is a treatable illness involving an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. It is not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness. You can’t make yourself well by trying to “snap out of it.” Although it can run in families, you can’t catch it from someone else. The direct causes of the illness are unclear, however it is known that body chemistry can bring on a depressive disorder, due to experiencing a traumatic event, hormonal changes, altered health habits, the presence of another illness or substance abuse.


Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
Pessimism, indifference
Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
Unexplained aches and pains
Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

If you or someone you know has thoughts of death or suicide, contact a medical professional, clergy member, loved one, friend or hospital emergency room. Or call 1–800-273–8255 (TALK) or call 911 immediately to get help.


Dr. Ivan’s Depression Central

Canadian Depression Support Network

The Mood Disorders Society of Canada (MDSC)

Healing Well – Depression

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

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