5 Ways to Support a Loved One with Depression

depression girl on couch staring outside sad

Luis Sarabia / Flickr

Depression is not a solitary disease. While it makes a person feel alone and they often withdrawal, depression has an impact on more than just the sufferer. Depression is a disease that can devastate the whole family. And it’s more common than people realize. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 6.7% of  the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year are affected by major depressive disorder. Yes, those numbers are high, but researchers and psychologists believe there are many more with the mental illness, especially men, who are less likely to report symptoms or seek out treatment.

depression

Ben Barnes / Flickr

Depression is more than being sad. Clinical depression is both severe and persistent. People with depression find little joy in anything, even things they used to love. They have issues with sleep and struggle to perform daily activities, such as showering and getting dressed. Depressed people feel worthless and hopeless, and sometimes even have thoughts of suicide.

When someone you love is depressed, it can have a huge impact on your life. Not only do you feel for your loved one, but their behavior and attitude can be frustrating, and can often lead to you becoming depressed as well. Depression can be curable though, but they will need your support. Here are five ways you help.

Educate Yourself and Your Loved One

depression 2

Ashley Rose / Flickr

Do research on depression to gain a better understanding of the disease, its symptoms, and the treatments available. Discuss these things with your loved one and try to help them understand the thoughts and feelings are part of an illness.

Encourage Them to Seek Treatment

Depression rarely gets better on its own. Most people need some level of treatment, whether that means therapy, medication, or something more, in order to overcome their depression.

Support, but Don’t Minimize

It can be hard to help someone when it comes to depression. Many are in denial, and instead of fighting, it’s sometimes easier to just minimize the behavior and tell yourself it’s not as bad as it really is. It can also make you angry and unsupportive. But telling a depressed person to “snap out of it,” or agree with them when they put themselves down only makes problems worse. Instead, support your loved one by listening to them and sympathizing. When it gets frustrating and you’re at your wits end, try to remember depression is an illness and that they’re sick.

Encourage Activities

group party

See-ming Lee / Flickr

Once they are in treatment and making progress, encourage him or her to start engaging in activities. Whether it’s a family picnic or a stroll around the block, try to get them out of the house and involved with other people. Physical activities, including regular exercise, can be an important aspect of your loved one’s treatment.

Take Care of Yourself

talking on bench

Rebecca Schley  / Flickr

Loving someone with depression can take its toll on you, both physically and mentally. One of the best things you can do for the both of you is to take care of yourself. Try to remind yourself that their depression is rarely ever about you, and they may find it hard to communicate their appreciation for you and your efforts. Find someone you trust and reach out to them. Having a pastor or a good friend to confide in helps to ease the pressure and frustration you may be experiencing.

Is your loved one is suffering from depression? If their depression is severe, and they’re starting to make suicidal statements, don’t take it lightly. Seek help immediately by calling your local mental health crisis line.

 


Do you have experience dealing with depression? What steps do you take to control your depression? Share it with us in the comments.


Additional Image: in all honesty

 

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Molly Carter
Molly Carter
Molly is a freelance writer who talks about everything and anything from addiction, to sex. to skinning a deer. You can find her at MollyCarterWriter.com, or Facebook.