How to Help a Loved One with Depression
When someone you love is struggling with depression, it can feel like you’re helpless. There are, however, many ways you can provide your support and help them through what can be a very difficult time. First, it’s important to mention something you shouldn’t be doing and that telling them to snap out of it. Recovery from depression is a long process, and it takes time, treatment, and understanding and support from those around them. Depression is a real medical illness and people can’t just pull themselves together and feel better.
The things you can do for a loved one include:
- Listen and Provide Emotional Support
The one thing a person who’s struggling with depression needs more than anything is someone that will listen and provide emotional support. Learn to listen with empathy. Try to step inside their shoes and show compassion and warmth. You also need to realize that you can’t fix someone’s symptoms or tell them how they should feel or what to do.
- Learn as Much as You Can About the Condition
Find out as much as you can about your loved one’s condition. Learn about the symptoms and try to understand what they’re going through. Depression is an illness just like diabetes and should be treated as such.
- Help Them Find Treatment
Taking the first step and looking for professional help can be very difficult for anyone with depression, but you can help by looking for a good therapist and offering to make the appointment. You could also offer to go with them for support. People who are depressed often resort to taking drugs or alcohol to help them cope with the way they’re feeling. If your loved one is suffering from addiction as well, then they’ll need specialist support. Treatment is available at centers such as forwardrecovery.com.
- Be a Positive Influence
Having a positive attitude when you’re in the company of a loved one can be a huge help. You don’t need to tell them off, plead or cajole them. It’s often enough just to be there. Let the professionals address the depression and focus on being a positive influence in their life.
- Keep Them Busy
People who are depressed often isolate themselves, and this only makes things worse. Gently encourage your loved one to do more things with you such as going out for dinner, taking a walk in the park or learning something new together.
- Check on Them Regularly
Calling or visiting your family member shows them that you’re there for support. If you listen to what your loved one is saying you’ll know exactly how often your visits or calls need to be.
- Don’t Push Too Hard
It’s a fine balance between encouragement and pushing too hard, so you need to be careful or the person you’re trying to help will pull back more. The trick is to be persistent but gentle. When they keep declining your invitations, don’t force the issues. You can always ask again a little later.
The important thing with all these suggestions is not to give up. It can take weeks, even months for any signs of improvement, but you can be certain it will happen, eventually.