Depression is still very much a taboo subject so it’s rare for someone to openly admit that they’re feeling depressed. Depression has no bias- it happens to people from all walks of life for many different reasons. When it happens to someone you know, you may be at a loss for what to do.
It can be extremely difficult to watch someone you love feel so low and find it tough to manage everyday life. However, the worst thing you can do is turn a blind eye and hope for the best. Here are some tips on how to help someone going through depression.
Recognize The Symptoms
It’s vital that you hit depression head on. It’s a difficult subject to talk about but it should never be ignored. If your loved one is visibly low but hasn’t admitted they are depressed, it could be time to intervene. If you don’t believe your loved one will discuss it with you, talk about setting up a visit to a professional counselor or therapist.
Some of the symptoms include:
- Low Self-esteem
- Change to sleeping patterns
- Poor decision making
- Lack of motivation
Before you try and help your loved one, you need to understand what depression is. Depression is more than just a short period of feeling low. Someone with depression has no control over their feelings.
Depression lasts for an extended period and should be clinically diagnosed by a professional. It’s important to understand that you may not be able to improve your loved one’s mood by doing a few nice things or giving a pep talk. It will take time and commitment from your loved one to recover.
Stay Calm, Be Wise
Depression can often go hand in hand with addiction. If your loved one is using drugs or is addicted to alcohol, this process will be much harder on you both. One of the key signs of this is poor decision making. You may notice that your loved one stops going to work or doesn’t return home until the early hours of morning.
It’s during this time that it’s typical to get in trouble with the law. Mental health issues and addiction are a recipe for crime. If your loved one does get arrested for wrongdoing, you can seek bail bonds to help with temporary release and inform your lawyers of your loved ones struggles with mental health.
Start The Conversation
You may feel that you’re the last person your loved one wants to talk to about their feelings. It may stay this way for a while but making a start by broaching the subject is a great thing to do. You can start by just being present and making yourself available for what your loved one needs.
Gently enter into conversation about the behaviors you’ve noticed and ask if you can help in any way. Next time you talk to your loved one, discuss the subject further until it becomes more comfortable for you both to talk about.
Depression can lead to behaviors that are hurtful for others. You may feel let down by your loved one or feel that their actions have been selfish. Many people with depression feel guilt and shame which only adds to their sadness.
Let your loved one know that they are forgiven and give them the permission to start the healing process. This ensures that neither of you are carrying around weight that you shouldn’t be carrying and opens the door to better communication.
It’s hard to find a balance between finding the right amount of support and enabling someone who suffers from mental health issues. Although it’s important that you are there for your loved one, it’s also important you don’t turn into a babysitter. To come through this, your loved one has to take responsibility and accountability.
The type of support you offer will depend on what your loved one needs. For instance, it could be as simple as spending time together watching a movie or offering to drive them to work. These simple gestures mean you can spend time together where conservation becomes a key part of your relationship.
Don’t Expect Miracles
Depression isn’t something that can be cured overnight. As a person who is offering support to a loved one with depression you need to have realistic expectations. In some cases, it could get worse before it gets better.
Expect it to take time before you see the whole picture. Be patient and take it step by step with your loved one. Always approach each situation with tenderness and affection, even when you feel frustrated.
Lead By Example
One of the best ways to help relieve the symptoms of depression is to make healthy life choices. Getting up in the morning, eating well, exercising, and having good relationships are just some of the ways to battle depression. If you’re not living your life like this, why should your loved one?
If you want to support someone with depression, you can do it by offering them a good example of a healthy life. This includes talking and thinking positively so that negative thoughts are pushed away.
Be Active Together
Exercise releases endorphins which is a natural way to boost a low mood. Ironically, depression makes people want to isolate themselves but this makes symptoms of depression worse. Being active together is a good way to improve socialization and physical health.
Two of the best treatments for depression are talking and exercising. Ask your loved one what type of activity they like doing. It could be anything from a session to the gym to a walk around the block, or even a group activity.
Listen With Compassion
It’s common for people to listen and then offer advice. The problem is, most people aren’t looking for advice. All you need to do is listen and understand.
Forget the need to fix the problem as you listen to your loved one. If your loved one wants advice, they’ll ask you. Until then, all you need to do is be present and willing to go on the journey.
Know Suicide Warning Signs
Depression has a direct link to suicidal thoughts. When someone starts considering ending their life, there will be signs. You may find that your loved one purposely isolates themselves.
It could look like your loved one has completely given up. If you notice something alarming or anything you’re worried about, it’s a good indication that you need to contact a professional counselor and arrange an appointment as soon as possible.
Lay Out The Benefits
It’s common for those with depression to be reluctant to accept professional help. They may feel they don’t need it or they may be scared of the outcome. As a supporter, it’s your role to communicate the benefits of seeing a professional for therapy and advice.
One of the key benefits of talking to a professional is the realization that things are not hopeless. There is hope for the future and getting treatment isn’t something that your loved one has to do alone.
Don’t Forget About Yourself
Worrying about and supporting someone with depression can feel like a full time job. You may start to feel run down and low yourself. There are many places where you can find support when you need it.
Make sure you get rest when you feel tired and try to get other family and friends to help if you can. Remember, you can’t help someone else if you’re running on empty yourself.
Someone with depression can quickly become dependent on you if you let them. Although you should be there to offer support, you can be there all the time. You should set boundaries early on so your loved one knows what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do.
Your loved one has to take responsibility for their recovery and put in the hard work to see progress. This isn’t a process that anyone can be carried through. Have this discussion with your loved one whenever boundaries are crossed.
It Could Happen More Than Once
If your loved one has suffered from depression before, the odds are it will happen again at some point during their life. There is no cure for depression so it’s inevitable that your loved one could slip back into depression at another low point in their life. This is why it’s so important for your loved one to get help now.
If depression happens again, your loved one will already have the tools to treat it and not allow depression to take a deep hold. As a supporter, always be prepared to go on another journey with your loved one, whether short or long.
Depression is serious and should always be treated professionally. If you’ve found this article helpful, take a look at the others.