Ask Amy: Depressed son is reluctant to leave home
We just don't know how to help our oldest son get to a place where he can live independently. What would you suggest?
Dear Concerned: You should take this in careful stages. The message to your elder son should be, “Our goal is for both of our sons to live independently and to develop rewarding pursuits and relationships. We’ll help you get there.”
Your elder son has already made great strides – he moved across the country and is now working full time. That’s huge. He is being honest regarding the impact of his depression, but he may also be using his depression as a crutch.
The pandemic has proved a serious setback for many young adults.
According to a study published by the Pew Research Center, “At the height of the pandemic, more people under 30 were living with their parents than were living on their own … the highest percentage since the great depression.” Many of these young adults are now struggling to re-launch.
My point is that your son is not alone. His depression is certainly a factor, but – he’s also nervous about undertaking a big change that seems lonelier than that first big step out of college and into adulthood was.
Your son should be seeing a therapist. You could start with therapy on your own and invite him to join you and your husband, with the goal to discuss how he is managing his disease, including the fears and challenges he anticipates, and ways you can be helpful (perhaps with him living nearby or cohabiting with his brother, for instance).
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is an invaluable resource. Check their “family members and caregivers” page for ideas and professional and peer support (NAMI.org).
Dear Amy: Unfortunately, we have a growing homeless population in our city.