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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What can I do for my depressed cousin?

    My cousin has suffered from depression for so long but it is getting so much worse than it ever was. She used to always talk to me about it because I was depressed at one stage so we had that in common and we have always been close. However now she won't talk about it. I am afraid for her because my Aunty said that she nearly lost my cousin 4 times this year. She didn't tell me but told my other Aunty and when I asked what she meant she said she didn't know much more than that.
    My cousin has put on so much weight and is really depressed out that. She does not want to see anyone and constantly puts herself down (in a joking way, but I know she means it). She doesn't look after herself and is very unhygienic. She also drinks too much.
    The thing is she has been on anti depressants for years but seems to think they should be doing all the work to make her better. She won't do anything else to help herself. She also gets very upset with small comments so it is hard to talk to her. ?????
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    HealthShare Member

    I ran out of space sorry but also wanted to add that she is an extremely generous and caring person and I just want her to be happy. I don't know how to help and because she is extremely sensitive it is hard to be straight with her because she gets angry or upset.

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    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    It appears that your cousin should be under professional counselling - firstly to deal with her psychological problems and secondly how to overcome her weight issues. Whoever precribed her with medication should also advise her of someone who can help her to resolve her issues. Medication is a plaster but it does not consider the problems that are causing the depression, the eating, and the lack of zest for life. Your cousin appears to be in a deep hole, and a trained individual will have the skills to assist her get out of it. You should approach her parents or contact her doctor to inform them of  how serious the problem has become. Her weight is a manifestation of her underlying issues - if she feels so strongly about her body and weight she should see a dietitian in combination with a psychologist/psychiatrist.

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    Anthony Merritt

    Clinical Psychologist, Health Psychologist, Psychologist

    I have been a Clinical Psychologist for ten years. I initially specialised in health psychology with a focus on pain management. More recently my focus … View Profile

    If you want to talk with her it could be useful to come at things from the angle of what life is like for her at the moment. It sounds like she'e quite unhappy so you might find she has a lot to talk about. Try to engage her in this discussion and avoid providing solutions or simplfying things - when people are angry they are often sensitive to these sorts of comments. I'd also suggest that you get her to talk about what she has done to improve things and how that has gone. In doing this you are getting her to discuss why she might be stuck. Then you could slowly and gently suggest that it might be worth trying some other approach while reinforcing how hard she is trying at the moment. You could also assure her that seeing someone doesnt mean there is something wrong with her. It is just that we all need help from time to time, and  sometimes you need to look outside your normal resoucres if they are not giving enough help or support. Good luck.  

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    Dr. Melinda Ricci has a passion for optimizing health and preventing injury. Success Chiropractic has a Pediatric treatment facility, remedial massage, yoga and pilates classes … View Profile

    It sounds like the management of your cousin's condition is no longer effective; this is not uncommon, as medication is often helpful earlier in the process to reduce symptoms but in the long run, the problem/s still exisits. As you have said that it is difficult for you to approach certain issues due to fear of upsetting your cousin, perhaps you can become a positive influence. For instance, talking to her about losing weight may be upsetting, but try having your cousin come on a walk with you a few times a week.  She may also find this is a good time to talk more about how she is feeling and discussing the issues is an important aspect of managing depression. I feel that she needs to be speaking with the health professional who is managing the condition also; this is most likely not something you can solve alone. Also try getting your cousin to take some high potency B-vitamins; if she is adverse to the idea try them yourself and let her know if they help you with energy and motivation levels. Remeber that increasing the amount of physical activity is a great way to counter the effects of depression; and it doesn't have to involve anything too strenuous.  Walking is a fantastic form of exercise and also can be a great stress- reliever too!

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