Ask Jennifer: Week ending...

Posted at: 07/18/2008 3:32 PM
Updated at: 03/25/2015 5:52 PM

Dear Jennifer,
My letter is not about your series, although I am learning a lot and grateful for the information. I am writing about my father’s depression. He isn’t eating well, he wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. He’s lost some weight and overall he just seems sad to me. He just doesn’t feel like doing things he used to enjoy. My problem is that when I talk to his doctor about this, he doesn’t want to medicate him. The doctor said that so many medications have terrible side effects that he’d rather wait and see how he does. He’s been saying we’ll wait for some time now. I talked to my father about it, but he’s been with his doctor for about 25 years. He does whatever he says. My father won’t let me come to a doctor’s appointment with him. I don’t know which way to turn with this. I hope you’ve got an idea for me. 
Best Wishes, 
George Anne 
Dear George Anne, 
Your father is exhibiting symptoms associated with depression, but I don’t know enough about his overall health picture. Is there a reason your dad would be depressed? Has he suffered a loss? Is his health failing? Is he in pain? My idea is to insist that your father let you come to a doctor’s appointment.  Tell your father that you are worried about his health in general - don’t focus on depression - let that come out naturally over the course of the appointment. Tell your dad that something is causing him to lose weight etc. and you want to talk with the doctor. If he digs in his heels, try to get his permission to speak to the doctor by phone or through his patient portal online if there is one. 
Also, you might try increasing your visits to include being there at meal time with food (always have enough for left overs for him) and getting him out of the house now that the weather is getting nicer. 
Good luck.