How to Help a Loved One Who Has Depression
Depression can be a downward spiral that takes time to recover from. Luckily, treatment options exist.
When caring for someone experiencing depression, it’s essential that you know what role and support they need from you. Here are three suggestions to guide your actions: 1. Listen. 2. Offer support. 3. Do not judge.
1. Be there.
Listening and being available are essential in supporting children as they navigate their emotions and experiences.
Encourage them to seek treatment and accompany them on therapy appointments, but don’t force or show anger if they decide not to seek assistance.
Bear in mind that depression can be an intricate condition. Gaining more knowledge about it can help you better comprehend and provide you with ideas to support someone experiencing this illness.
2. Don’t try to solve the problem.
Though it may be tempting, try instead focusing on helping them manage each day with care and concern. Instead of offering generic advice like, “Look on the bright side!” or “Try not to feel down,” instead.
Offering to pick up food on their way home, providing transportation for work or appointments, or setting up therapy appointments can make a tremendous difference for someone. You could also consider joining them during therapy sessions to see what they experience first-hand.
3. Offer to help.
Though you cannot cure someone of depression, offering support and understanding can go a long way toward alleviating symptoms. Encourage them to participate in positive activities like walking or going to the movies together as ways of breaking up the monotony of depression.
Assist your loved ones in staying on track with their treatment plans by reminding them to take medications and attend doctor appointments, as well as accompanying them or attending therapy sessions, according to Riba. Doing this allows you to provide feedback on their progress while simultaneously showing your concern.
4. Don’t be critical.
Depression affects everyone differently; those suffering may lack energy or motivation to do many activities, which should not be taken as an indication that they’re trying hard enough or that they need to ‘pull themselves together’.
Instead, encourage them to visit their GP and request a general health check-up – this could help them recognize their symptoms more quickly while realising they’re not simply ignoring or neglecting an issue.
5. Don’t make assumptions.
Depression distorts their view of reality, making it hard to know exactly what support they require from you. If in doubt, ask directly what assistance is necessary from them.
Depression doesn’t have an exact timeline for recovery, so be prepared to help someone through any relapses that arise. Perhaps suggest seeing their family doctor or mental health professional for an evaluation, or join an in-person or online support group for them.
6. Don’t push them.
Depression can cause extreme irritability and anger; however, it’s important to not take this personally and remember they are suffering from an illness and doing their best.
Riba suggests encouraging them to seek treatment by offering to attend their appointments or by asking if their treatment has had any positive results or seen any improvement.
Reassure them that suicide isn’t an option; while they may feel that this is their only escape route from pain, this often isn’t true.
7. Set boundaries.
If someone you care for is struggling with depression, encourage them to seek professional help and offer to accompany them for appointments and support them during this journey.
Remind them that depression is a medical condition and not something they are responsible for, reassuring them that with time and treatment they will find relief.
8. Don’t overdo it.
Depression can sap energy and motivation from those experiencing it, so encourage them to make small steps like eating healthier or going for walks as ways of beginning again.
Be a help by joining them for therapy sessions or doctor’s visits, but don’t become their full-time caretaker – your own wellbeing may suffer as a result!
Help your loved one understand that depression is a medical illness, not simply feeling down. Discuss how they can recover through treatment and time. However, for this to work they need to want it themselves.