Living with someone who is suffering from depression is not easy. You may not recognize who the person has become and may resort to unhealthy ways of dealing with them. For instance, you may be constantly advising the person, who most likely won’t take it; or you may find yourself walking on glass around the person because you are afraid you’ll make things worse; or you may simply ignore that the problem exists. Not knowing how to help someone with depression can quickly become frustrating and exhausting. It can destroy even the best of relationships.
How to Help Someone with Depression
Medical care and treatment is a must to overcome depression, but your help, love, and support is just as important. And there are plenty of things that you can do to help someone with depression. In this post, I will share some of the helpful guidelines that you can follow so you can help someone who is depressed.
When dealing with someone who is depressed, we often tend to forget that we are dealing with a medical condition. People with depression are unable to overcome their feelings of worthlessness and negativity. Depression cannot be overcome overnight nor can you push it under the carpet and expect it to go away. It also won’t go away just because you are offering all your love and support to the person. Understand that depression is a serious medical condition that can be overcome with proper treatment and persistent encouragement and support and its a long road to recovery. And you need to take one step at a time.
Lend an Ear
Since, depression brings feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness in a person, they tend to avoid family members and loved ones. Therefore it is important that you reach out and encourage them to talk about their feelings and problems. Be a compassionate listener. Avoid giving advice and be a shoulder for them to lean on. Give them the confidence that they can always trust on you to listen. Don’t be judgmental towards the person who is already suffering from insecurities and lack of confidence. This will only cause them to shut off their only means of communication and support.
Be gentle in your conversations. Ask questions like “You’ve been very quiet lately. Is everything ok?” or Is there anything I can do for you to make things easier for you? Avoid statements like “It happens to all of us or Why are you behaving like this?
When you are supportive, you offer encouragement and hope to the person.
Encourage Professional Help
A trained professional can help your loved one with their struggles, but convincing them to take up professional help is the toughest part. Be gentle but persistent in encouraging them to seek professional help. If they allow, you can even find a good therapist in your locality and book an appointment. You can also accompany your loved one to the first session to support them. If they resist getting help, you can suggest a simple checkup with your doctor. The doctor may ask a series of questions and determine if a psychiatrist or psychologist opinion is required.
Dealing with depression is difficult. You need to be kind, compassionate, and patient because you are mostly dealing with negativity, hostility, and moodiness of the sufferers. You can help your loved ones with tasks that they are willing to let you do such as schedule appointments and stay on schedule with the treatments prescribed.
Depression cannot be overcome at will so be patient and realistic in your expectations. It can be frustrating to see your loved one struggle with ordinary everyday things and some days will be worse than others. Losing your patience is like taking 2 steps back in your progress chart so avoid giving in to your frustrations.
When you are around someone who is depressed, keep speaking positively, eat healthy foods, avoid alcohol and drugs, exercise and lead a positive mind boosting lifestyle. Your behavior will have a positive impact on their thoughts and emotions and overall well being.
Do things together with the person, such as watching a funny movie, having dinner in a restaurant where you have happy memories, working out in a gym, or jogging in the park or simply taking long walks together. If they refuse, don’t be discouraged. Patience and persistence again is the key.
A depressed person may find it difficult to do even the smallest of tasks and while you can pitch in where possible, don’t take over their life. And don’t overburden yourself and get burned out in the process.
Dealing with Suicidal Tendencies
When your loved one talks about suicide or tends to act in a self harming way, don’t take it lightly. When someone is depressed, suicide is a very real danger. If your loved one is considering suicide, talk to them about your concerns. Talking openly about these thoughts can save a person’s life. Make sure that you encourage them to get immediate professional help. If your loved one is at immediate risk, don’t leave them alone even for a single minute. If you are in the U.S. dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. IASP offers guidance on finding suicide prevention helplines in other countries.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
Being around someone who is demotivated and low spirited all the time can affect your own motivation. Don’t allow your frustrations to build up because the person who is depressed can pick up on those negative feelings and feel even worse. Talk openly and gently about your feelings and harbor no resentments because of the difficult behavior of your loved one. Set boundaries of what you will and won’t tolerate. Show some tough love so that they will understand that its not easy for you to deal with some things as well.
If things become too much to handle, go out and treat yourself to something nice. Set aside time for your loved one, but try to maintain your normal routine as much as possible.
If necessary, seek support from others. You are not betraying your loved one when you confide in another person or seek professional help.
Don’t blame yourself if you have to take a step or two back from your loved one. Your good health and positive mindset is vital for you to continue your support, so if you find yourself lacking, you’ll be doing more harm than good. Thinking about yourself is a necessity not a selfish act. So take good care of yourself so you can be better prepared to help someone with depression.
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