Helping loved ones deal with depression

Q: My 35-year-old son moved back home because he wasn't coping with “life on the outside.” He's seeing a therapist and taking an antidepressant, but I don't think he's really working on getting better. My wife says he's doing the best he can, but I think we should ask him to move out. Am I out of line? — Carlo G., Yonkers, N.Y.

A: Mental illness is often hard for those “on the outside” to understand. If your son had cancer and needed to stay with you while he received chemo, surgery and/or radiation, chances are you wouldn't feel critical of how long the treatment took or if the treatment failed to create a total cure.

You'd understand that's the nature of cancer therapies — even though a person can prevent many cancers by adopting a healthy lifestyle. But people (also the government and the medical profession) sometimes don't feel as sympathetic toward folks battling mental illness.

It may be helpful to understand that in some situations, emotions (response to shock or chronic stressors, for example) can trigger a physical event such as a heart attack or they may cause a mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder. In other situations, a physical trigger such as a genetic predisposition can lead to mental illness (depression) or a physical disease (high blood pressure). So which comes first: the chicken or the egg? It doesn't matter.

Interestingly, in a small study, researchers recently identified those who had depression and those who didn't by using a blood test to ID biochemical markers for the disease. This is an important step in putting depression on the same playing field as other disabilities.

It's good that your son is getting therapy and medication. He also should be encouraged to be physically active. Regular exercise creates brain changes similar to those caused by antidepressants: strengthening the neurotransmitter epinephrine, affecting serotonin uptake, promoting nerve growth and reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol!

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott listens at a rally to commemorate the life of George Floyd and others killed by police outside City Hall on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Will the Biden Administration help SF speed up police reform?

City has struggled to implement changes without federal oversight

The SFMTA cut all but 17 bus lines in April last year due to the pandemic and has been slow to bring them back due to budget deficit and continuing low ridership. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F. Examiner)
Supes urge SFMTA to expedite restoration of Muni lines

Resolution emphasizes focus on seniors, individuals with disabilities and community routes

Lowell High School (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Students, families call for culture shift at Lowell after racist incident

District to explore changes including possible revision of admissions policy

Alan Wong was among California National Guard members deployed to Sacramento to provide security the weekend before the presidential inauguration. (Courtesy photo)
CCSF board member tests positive for COVID-19 after National Guard deployment

Alan Wong spent eight days in Sacramento protecting State Capitol before Inauguration Day

Due to a lack of votes in his favor, record-holding former Giant Barry Bonds (pictured at tribute to Willie McCovey in 2018) will not be entering the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the near future.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Ex-Giants star Barry Bonds again falls short of Hall of Fame

After striking out yet again in his bid to join Major League… Continue reading

Most Read