How To Deal With Mentally Ill Parents

Many young children, adolescents, and adults will watch their mentally ill parent suffer, without a clue of how to deal with them. Being an older adult, with a mentally debilitated parent can be very challenging, but it can be equally challenging for an adolescent.

When a child is forced to take on the role as an adult, they will be subject to much verbal and potentially physical abuse, especially, if the parent has frequent outbursts. Of course, the child will also feel like it is their responsibility to shield their younger siblings from this unpredictable behavior.

Is Depression a Mental Disorder

Yes, depression is classified as a mental disorder. Of course, there are several different types of depression, which are classed by the duration of symptoms, symptoms exhibited, and its underlying causes.

  • Major or clinical depression is episodic, with 1 or more episodes occurring over one’s lifetime
  • Persistent depressive disorder symptoms will last for 2 years or longer
  • Psychotic depression involves severe depression combined with psychotic behavior (delusional)
  • Postpartum depression is most often called the “baby blues”, because the onset of symptoms will occur postpartum
  • Seasonal affective disorder is also known as “winter blues”, because the onset of symptoms will occur at the beginning or during the winter season
  • Manic depressive disorder is characterized by periods of mania (highs) and depression (lows)

Early Symptoms of Mental Illness

There are innumerable signs of mental illness and sometimes the onset of symptoms will occur suddenly, which may be linked to some sort of trauma or stress. Some individuals are prone to mental illness, especially, if they have a family history of these conditions. Yes, mental illness is hereditary, so be sure to learn the signs of mental illness, so you will know when to seek help for yourself or your parent.

  • Insomnia/sleeping longer
  • Persistent emptiness and sadness
  • Hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness
  • Extreme guilty feelings
  • Loss of interest in activities that was once found enjoyable
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Body aches, digestive issues, and headaches

A more serious sign of major depression is suicidal ideation. When you begin to notice someone that you love talk constantly about suicide, you should immediately reach out for help.

Early Warning Signs of Mental Illness

Everyone is at risk, but women are 70% more likely to suffer from major depression than men (NIH). It has also been reported that 3.3% of adolescents between the ages of 13-18 have been diagnosed with a debilitating depressive discover.

  • Isolation
  • Inability to focus
  • Sudden mood alterations
  • Extreme fear and anxiety
  • Alterations in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Long-lived gloominess
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Inability to cope with problems and specific situations
  • Aggressive behavior

Is Anxiety Disorder a Mental Illness

Yes, anxiety disorder is a mental illness, but should not be mistaken with everyday anxiety, which is controllable. Panic attacks, phobias, and social anxiety is classed under anxiety disorder, since these conditions cause excessive, uncontrollable paranoia, worry,  insomnia, and fear.

Taking Care of a Mentally Ill Parent

It is never easy to encourage someone that is suffering from some type of mental illness to seek medical treatment. They will fight it with everything in them, because they are in denial.

Show emotional support and sit down with them to discuss their problems. Never avoid talking about mental illness, because it is not going to go away. Make an appointment with a psychiatrist to address the issues, get a diagnosis, and treatment plan.

You should also join self-help or community groups, so you can interact with other children of parents with mental illnesses. Try to be active and as sociable as possible. Join your local gym or yoga class, so you can keep your mind occupied and healthy.

Inpatient treatment may be your loved one’s only hope, so be diligent and encourage them to get help.