How to Help a Loved One Who Has Depression
Offering support can make a world of difference to those suffering from depression. Offer hope and reassurance while encouraging them to seek treatment; offer to make appointments, accompany them or attend family therapy sessions together as appropriate.
Learn all you can about depression. Keep in mind that depression robs a person’s energy, optimism and motivation – they cannot escape this state on their own.
Depressed loved ones can sometimes feel ignored; simply showing that someone cares by listening is often enough.
Reassure your child that depression is a medical condition and should not be seen as an excuse or weakness, explaining that through treatment they will improve. Ask how their treatment plan is progressing and praise any improvements you have observed; this will encourage them to continue with it.
Depression can sap a person’s energy, optimism and motivation, so it’s crucial that they understand that their symptoms are medical conditions that can be treated.
Keep in mind, however, that to provide the support your loved one requires you will first need to look after yourself. Being knowledgeable, available for help and showing nonjudgmental attitudes will all go a long way toward helping your family member.
Encourage them to engage in healthy activities, such as eating a balanced diet, getting enough restful sleep and exercising regularly. Reminding them to attend religious services regularly may also prove useful.
Let them know that depression can be treated, and offer to accompany them on therapy appointments – but be careful to set limits to avoid burnout and resentment.
4. Encourage Activity.
Encourage them to participate in activities that will bring joy, such as walking or creating art projects. Physical activity releases endorphins which help boost mood.
Try laughing yoga for an entertaining exercise routine that combines deep breathing with intentional laughter. Encourage them to practice their faith if that’s important to them.
Remember that depression is not simply an emotional state to overcome; rather it requires time and assistance in order to recover from.
5. Be Patient.
Depression can make those affected feel burdensome to others; therefore it’s essential that those dealing with it receive support in adhering to their treatment plan, including setting reminders to take medications on time and arranging transportation to therapy appointments.
Encourage your loved one to maintain a routine and take part in activities they find meaningful, as this may help their symptoms to ease over time. With patience and encouragement, change will come.
6. Encourage Self-Care.
Caregiving for someone suffering from depression can be draining, so be sure to take steps for your own wellbeing by seeking support for yourself and not overextending yourself.
Assure your loved one that this condition will improve with time and treatment, encouraging them to find hope in what matters to them most, whether that be faith, family or their personal hobbies and interests.
7. Encourage Medication.
Encourage your loved one to visit a physician to see if depression could be contributing to their symptoms. You can offer to accompany them or even assist in taking on some daily tasks such as cooking or cleaning if this could help them feel more at ease.
Remind them that treatment works and that they should feel better soon. Give hope by reminding them why they need to keep living, such as children or pets or faith.
8. Encourage Talking.
If your loved one wants to talk, be available and listen. Assure them that depression isn’t their fault and it can get better with treatment.
Remind them to take their medication as prescribed and attend all appointments, helping make the necessary arrangements whether in-person or via telehealth.
9. Encourage Counseling.
As difficult as it may be to watch someone you care for struggling with depression, remember that depression is a medical illness. Just as you wouldn’t attempt to cure someone of diabetes on your own, so too shouldn’t anyone try treating their depression without professional intervention.
Encourage them to follow their treatment plan, including setting reminders to take medication and providing transportation for therapy appointments. Stay in contact and listen without judgment when they want to talk.
10. Encourage Time Alone.
Reassure them that depression is a medical condition they cannot simply “get over.” Encourage them to adhere to their treatment plan, including taking their medications and attending therapy appointments.
Be wary of enabling–that is, covering up another’s negative behavior–which can be both unwise and harmful to all parties involved.