Depression in the family


This is really difficult to write, because I’m so used to always making sure to present my family at its best in society and keeping trouble at home. But lately, it feels like it’s grating down on everybody. My dad has depression, and his moods put us all on edge. Thankfully I’m gone at college most of the day, but that leaves Mom at home with the other 5 kids, all of whom homeschool…and did I mention Dad works at home? I’m mostly writing this for my mom so I can give her advice (she turns to me to vent, which is okay by me, just fyi)

When he worked in the back bedroom the house had to be quiet…a nearly impossible request. He complains about being hot, about the noise, about work all the time. He wants to be left alone, but if one of the kids wander into his room to use the bathroom there, he tells them to play with cars on the bed while he works. In short, he makes it harder on himself so he has cause to complain. He likes managing— (B–go get this, C, go measure the backyard, M, go get me lunch) but he won’t do the work himself, or if he does, he complains about how much he has to do. But now he got himself a laptop so he can sit on the couch and “be with everybody”. Now, it seems like he criticizes everything from his “master chair”. If things aren’t done perfectly or right, he’ll take over and complain. For example, I was making dinner for my mom, who was at a sibling’s activity. I opened up two lbs of thawed meat, one was pink one was rotten. I threw the rotten one away and had to get out a frozen one. This delayed me starting dinner 15 min, so it would be slightly late, but I knew how to compensate for it. But Dad came out, thinking dinner was ready, but I had just turned on the stove. He just took over w/o saying anything. I stood my ground. The second time I said “I can do it” (nicely) he yelled at me. Basically, he didn’t give me a chance to make up for it, because he didn’t trust me. And that hurts. We all have to walk on eggshells around him, but he’s not careful about our feelings.

Also, it seems like he’s more possesive of the family. He complains about Mom being gone all the time, but it was his idea to have the kids do so many activities. And, we originally were planning to visit an eldery relative, just Mom and the kids, a two days’ drive, because Dad couldn’t take off of work. But now, he “can’t bear losing all of us” and he’s going to come along and bring his laptop along. I’m dreading the trip now.

We’re all hoping and praying his boss would order him to accept an office and be on site a normal 5 days a week, just to give us a break, because this constant strain is wearing my mom out. Has anyone dealt with this sort of scenario before? Can anyone offer advice for my mom and the rest of the family?

That’s not to say he has his nice points, but lately it seems like all of them are bad ideas or come with strings attached.


Yuck. Sounds like he’s holding everyone hostage to his moods or ‘feelings,’ and you all are unfortunately letting him.

Is your dad seeing anyone professionally to manage his depression? Or just doing medication?

Would your mother be willing to start seeing a therapist herself to learn how to set boundaries within the family?

Your dad sounds like he has more then just depression going on…has he had a physical lately? Sometimes early diabetics have massive mood swings like that due to blood glucose issues. A therapist can help your mother determine if depression is his only mental health issue and how to go about managing it for the well-being of the family. In the meantime, you might order “Stop Walking on Eggshells,” “Children of the Self-Absorbed” and “Loving the Self-Absorbed” (the first and the last is more for your mom) and see if those are applicable to your situation.


First - it sounds like he needs to move his business out of the house. I use to work in the home and it was very difficult. I ended up working all the time because there were so many interuptions. It is better to be out of the house and concentrate on work and then when at home concentrate on the family. Working out of the house when there are kids around can be extremely stressful.

It is possible for sublet an office space for as little as $100 a month. With today’s technology I would suggest that this happen very soon.

Just because some he may think he is doing the family a service by being with them, in fact he is not. The family needs to tell him this as a whole.


Suggest your mom get help dealing with this behavior.

Good luck. —KCT


Thank you for your guys’ kind help! I just requested the books from the library–they should be ready soon :slight_smile:

No, he’s not seeing anyone or taking any medicine for the depression, as far as I know. :frowning: But I understand his reluctance, no-one wants to drug themselves.

About the blood glucose, that just might be the issue (I hope…) and I will approach my mom about that (the concern is better coming from her than from me). thanks!

And I’m hoping and praying that Dad’ll get an office one way or another…you’re very honest about your experience, amills! I will bring that suggestion to my mom, too! Do you have any suggestions on how to do it tactfully without it looking like we’re “ganging up” on him? (his words)


He does sound depressed. I wonder if your family has talked to him about all the things that you have noticed about him and how it affects all of you. Perhaps he has been trying to get all of your attention for awhile now.

I highly suggest you get him to seek professional counseling. That doesn’t always mean medication, sometimes just someone to talk to.

Has he always been this way? When did it start? Did anything happened in between that may be causing this depression? That may help.


He does sound depressed. I wonder if your family has talked to him about all the things that you have noticed about him and how it affects all of you. Perhaps he has been trying to get all of your attention for awhile now.

I highly suggest you get him to seek professional counseling. That doesn’t always mean medication, sometimes just someone to talk to.

Has he always been this way? When did it start? Did anything happened in between that may be causing this depression? Knowing that may help.


Most likely your Dad already knows that he is acting in a way that is making everyone else miserable. I think ganging up on him may be the way to go. It is easy to deny to one person and blame them but to deny to the whole group is a different story.

When my husband worked graveyard he expected us to keep the house quiet for him which is impossible with small children. I use to just leave - all day. He finally realized that he just could not work graveyard.


Does your father use alcohol or drugs? Even secretly? I was very much like him - and guess what problem I have?

Whatever the problem is, it needs to be fixed. Have any of you ever talked to him about it? I know this can really be difficult, maybe your priest can help. Has he ever been violent? If he has, you cannot address this problem alone. It’s difficult to realize but these problems can frequently be fixed.

God bless you. My family will be praying for you?


I don’t know if that’s real clinical depression that needs drugs or if it’s the kind of depression people have when they hit a low. I’ve seen a lot of the latter kind in my family, no one seems to be free from such issues, perhaps some are clinical (at least one case is almost a given), but no one would go and get drugged.

Perhaps he’s very sad for some reason. Sometimes when people are sad, they want others to share in their feelings. They don’t feel good with other people being happy. They either want to or act as if they wanted to make other people’s lives miserable. This is the pushing of failure on people. No second chances, dwelling on probably even random or unimportant “failures”. To some point, it’s possible to shake off or control, but at some point, I think one probably needs therapy. Maybe you (a plural you, such as you and some other family members) could approach him in a loving and caring way and explain to him that you feel sad because of his sadness, that you empathise with him and you can’t watch him inflict suffering on himself anymore, while you suffer from his behaviour as well? I don’t think he consciously wants to make your lives miserable for a compensational purpose. He’s probably a very good and compassionate person that at some point received too much and gave up. I don’t know if I wouldn’t be there without the Eucharist myself and I’ve seen such patterns in my family (a lot, suffice to say), so you have my sympathies and I hope it turns out well for you and your dad and the whole family. Can you suggest some form of therapy that won’t make it look like he’s mentally ill? Maybe something like dealing with stress or I don’t know… just not something associated with medicine, medication, drugs, mental illness? I think there is a possibility that a person with depressions in life could be made into a mentally ill person by just going to psychiatrists, receiving medications and medical treatment. Maybe the person would stop considering himself as a “normal” person, stop fighting, embrace the world of being ill, you get the idea. Why some people don’t want to go therapy.

You need to do something because while the motivation that you can’t take that behaviour may seem egoistic, if you are faced with more of it, you can fall into similar patterns or fill other depressed roles in a depressed household. You don’t want yourself and your relatives to fall into those patterns, so you all need to act. Maybe your dad will find some peace in adoration? At any rate, I do think he should see some kind of specialist if only in dealing with stress. That specialist could be asked later and privately if he thinks real therapy is in order.

But please listen to other people, especially those more experienced. I’m young and my culture is a bit different from yours.


Thank you for all the help and prayers, everybody! Thankfully, my dad’s never been abusive, never used drugs, and very rarely drink alcohol except wine on special occasions. So, I think it’s most likely depression, probably a cyclical kind, because yesterday he was great! And mom’s benefiting from the suggestions, too, but we know it’ll take a while. Little baby steps…


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