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Need some advice on how to help my dad

(2 Posts)
blushingmare Mon 31-Mar-14 05:29:58

My dad has recently (since Christmas) been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. We have no experience of mental illness in our family and I don't think we're doing a very good job of helping and supporting him so would really appreciate any advice anyone could offer.

His main "things" are:

1. that he's clearly depressed and has lost all appetite for life - doesn't want to do anything, go anywhere, see anyone, do any of the things he used to.

2. he gets completely obsessed and fixated about irrational anxieties. So for example for the past 2 weeks he's been obsessed that there's a problem with the boiler and he's panicking that a) it might blow up the house or poison them with carbon monoxide and b) that it can't be fixed or even replaced and they will end up having to live in a house with no heating or hot water. There's no reasoning with him about these fixations and he gets really cross and then more depressed if you say that you don't believe they're true

3. He just can't seem to function normally. He's normally a very practical man and likes to be helpful, but he can't even do a simple DIY job - he can't seem to work out what to do, his hands are shaking like mad and he just gets really confused and then frustrated. He couldn't even go and move his car the other because it was dark and he didn't think he could do it in the dark.

He's on antidepressants and we didn't feel we were getting much support or advice through the NHS so recently paid for him to see a private psychiatrist, but even he said all he would recommend at this stage was increasing his medication. He felt he was too poorly for CBT to be effective at the moment. Every time he sees his GP she seems to be saying it's part of the ageing process (he's 73) and his memory is probably not as good as it used to be, but he's had a memory test with the mental health nurse and apparently he has a fantastic memory and she didn't have any concerns about dementia.

It just feels like we're not getting any practical advice on how we should be supporting him.

Should we be "forcing" him to go out and do things? If left to his own devices he would sit at home all day looking things up on the internet about carbon monoxide poisoning and the like, or just sit staring into space. So we make him get on and do things (always with people, not on his own) but the only way we can get him out is by bullying him into it, which feels all wrong.

How should we be reacting to these obsessions/anxieties of his? Should we persist in denying that the scenario he is worrying about is actually real, or should we play along with him and get people in to look at all these problems he creates? I've actually been thinking about getting a plumber in to do a "fake" repair on the boiler, but I don't know if it's helpful to feed into it. But if you say they're not real he gets really cross.

How will he get through this? Is this just what he's going to be like forever now or is there a chance of him improving? I can't see how on earth he can improve from this point. He's like a completely different person and is totally helpless.

It's unbelievably difficult to live with and my mum is just at the end of her tether. She gets so frustrated with him and whilst started off being sympathetic and gently encouraging him, she is more and more snapping and him and shouting at him, which she knows doesn't help, but I totally understand how she feels. I just try to reason with him, but you go round and round in circles.

Sorry this is long and if you've got to the end of it, thank you!

126sticks Tue 01-Apr-14 08:56:42

I know a bit about depression, but nothing about anxiety.
fwiw, it sounds more anxiousness than depression?

Myguess is that if he wasnt anxious about the boiler, he would be anxious about something else.

Did something happen at christmas?

Short daily walks might help him a bit.

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