Someone you are close to is suffering from depression. Outside support is important in helping a depressed person find their own sense of emotional balance. However, you may be struggling to help this individual while still dealing with challenges in your own personal life. What can you do to help this person through this rough time while still maintain your own well-being? The following suggestions will help you to care for your own needs while also providing much-needed support to a loved one with depression.
One of the easiest, yet most effective methods for helping someone with depression is to simply be there for them. You don’t have to solve all of their problems in one fell swoop. Sitting with the person while they share their feelings can make a big difference. Depression can feel very isolating. By simply being there for your friend, family member, or partner, you will help that person feel much less alone in their sadness.
If you have never experienced major depression before, then it may be difficult to understand what a person with the disorder is going through. Clinical depression is a disorder that can last from several weeks to several years if left untreated. Learning about the risk factors for depression, reading about how other people with clinical depression feel, and discovering the most effective treatment methods will help you to be a more sensitive supporter.
Depression can stem from a wide variety of causes, including alcohol or drug abuse; stressful life events; chemical changes in the brain; other mental or physical health problems; sleeping problems; medications; and other factors. Learning more about this very serious disorder can help you to assist your friend in finding the proper guidance and healing tools. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not provide relief for the person in your life. Professional guidance may be necessary to determine the best treatment path.
Don’t Judge or Minimize Their Pain
It can be difficult for a person who is generally upbeat to understand why another person cannot simply “snap out of” depression. There are so many factors that can cause depression that it is important to understand that no one wants to feel depressed and that, for many people, keeping an upbeat attitude is not so easy. Telling a person that they need to “change their attitude,” “stop viewing life with their cup half empty,” “be less think-skinned about things,” or other insensitive remarks will not help the situation.
Your first instinct may be to offer a dose of tough love, but this can actually cause more harm than good for many people with clinical depression. More than offering advice or criticism, being a compassionate listener is the best thing that you can do for a person suffering from depression.
Small Gestures of Kindness
For people who do not feel comfortable expressing emotional support, there are other ways to show your support. Cooking a favorite meal, sending a card or a gift, or other small gestures will offer a depressed person little glimpses of hope that will help them in the road to recovery.
Encouraging a Depressed Person to Seek Professional Help
You may be the closest person to the individual suffering from depression. However, this does not mean that it is up to you to pull them out of their depression. A better approach is to gently encourage the person to begin taking positive action by seeking professional guidance. Mental health professionals will have a better understanding of how to determine the causes of depression and how to assist the person you care about in the recovery process.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon and writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.