There may come a time when it falls on your shoulders to help your dad out with his depression. Depending on your relationship you may find it either easier or harder to convince him that it’s time to seek help.
It may be easier if your dad is actually looking for help and trusts you to provide it. Of course it may be harder if they can’t look beyond the fact you are their son or daughter and they don’t won’t to be a burden.
It can be a strange time looking after a relative who has previously always seen to your needs. A father, like men in general, can be proud and stubborn. They can also be stroppy and unhelpful when depressed. The point is that behaviour and mood changes come with the territory. Accepting this is important but you may also have to accept a level of dependency on you that is unexpected.
I’m reminded of people who struggle to survive and their rescuers. You may have seen news clips of people clinging to a tree during a flood, or maybe heard of others surviving for days and nights in a tent on a frozen mountain. Rescuers often point out that very soon after they arrive the person seems to fold. All their reserves of energy seem to dissipate and they give themselves over to the person who is rescuing them. It can be a bit like this with depression in men and it can leave you with a degree of control you may perhaps find difficult.
Whether you feel you’ve been placed in this position, or are only too willing to help, the way you go about things will be important. If your dad is older the issues may be different to if he is young. Older people tend to have more medical conditions. Some physical conditions require medication that can either trigger or mimic depression. One place to start is to find out if your dad is taking medication and to make a note of what it is, the dosage and how often he takes his meds.
Also, check out behavior that works against meds. By that I mean if depression leads to an increase in booze, it can also react badly with prescribed meds. Older men may also appear depressed and forgetful and it’s just possible he is showing early signs of dementia. Younger men are more likely to have issues with work, joblessness or relationships.
Protests don’t only come from fathers, they often come from men generally and men can be quite vigorous in their denial that help is needed. These are some of the most difficult situations. You can’t force help on someone and you don’t want to make them so angry they refuse to have anything else to do with you. This is something you have to pace. You know your dad best and you know how far you can reasonably make suggestions. The danger is that you back off and that much needed treatment is overlooked as a result.
I think you may need to accept that anger sometimes comes with depression but that so long as you make it clear that the reason you are putting up with verbal abuse is because you love your dad and can see they need help you may prevail. A strong emotional bond is obviously very helpful. Your dad may do things for you he would never contemplate from anyone else.