Depression hurts. It is a challenging condition that affects individuals for many reasons. It also affects the people around them. Depression can cause loved ones to feel frustrated, angry, hopeless, and helpless. However, if you have a loved one with depression, you aren’t helpless at all. Of course, you cannot solve the problem for them. Nevertheless, you can take actions to support them. Those small actions mean a lot. In fact, sometimes they make all the difference.
1. Identify the Problem
Does your loved one know that they are experiencing depression? If not, then it may be helpful for you to gently suggest that it could be what they are going through.
If the person isn’t receptive to the idea, then you can back off. You don’t have to identify the problem as depression to be able to help.
2. Normalize the Experience
People often feel shame about depression. Your loved one may feel like they “should” be able to do better. Help by expressing that what they’re going through is very common. If you know the trigger, then use that. For example, say, “it makes a lot of sense that you’re having a difficult time since you just went through a job loss.”
Of course, there may not be a trigger. In that case, you could say, “we all have challenges at different times, so your feelings seem very normal to me.”
3. Offer to Help with Treatment
Your loved one likely needs to see a professional for help. You can offer to support them. For example:
4. Offer to Help with Other Things
When a person is going through depression, everything in life feels more difficult. It can seem ridiculously hard to do the dishes, walk the dog, or cook a healthy meal. Come over and cook a meal to share. Offer to walk the dog with them, and if they really can’t get going, then offer to take the dog out for them.
5. Listen to your Loved One
It helps a lot for you to just listen. Your loved one might not be making a lot of sense. They may have ruminating thoughts that seem repetitive. Nevertheless, you can listen. Share your empathy. Reflect back what they say to you to make sure that you understand. Avoid giving advice or expressing judgment.
6. Point Out What You Love
Depression ekes away a person’s self-esteem. Remind your loved one of all of their great traits. Focus on their strengths. Say thanks or “great job” when they do small things. Highlight the positives.
7. Make Regular Plans
Set a weekly date to do something your loved one enjoys. Make it something easy, such as going to a movie, walking around the block, or taking a drive.
Your loved one may want to cancel because depression makes it difficult to do things. Discuss in advance how to handle if they do. Your backup plan might just be that you will come to their house for a few minutes instead.
8. Practice Self-Care
Depression can last a very long time. It is a draining experience for everyone involved. As a result, you need to take care of yourself. You can’t be there for your loved one if you’re exhausted and starting to become resentful. This is especially important if you live with the depressed person. Make sure you get regular time to yourself, do things that you enjoy, and utilize your own support network.
If you or someone you love is experiencing depression, therapy can help. Reach out today to learn more about depression treatment.
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Kind Words from Clients
"The beginning of this year was the hardest time I've faced thus far. I never knew how strong or crippling depression could be. Now as the year ends, I can says it's been one of the best years of my life; and that would not have been possible without you."
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