Depression is a terrible illness because it often prevents people from doing things that can help them. It affects almost all aspects of life. If your loved one is suffering from depression, we understand that this is a difficult time for you as well. It can be a confusing period, wherein you feel lost for things that you can do to help your loved one out. This article may simplify things for you. If you are completely clueless about depression, start here – What is depression?
Your loved one did not cause their own depression.
Empathize with the sufferer, let go of the notion that they are the cause of their problems. This will impede any efforts you make to help your loved one. They are going through tough times and they need your support. While several things they do may have indeed lead to their current state, this is probably the worst time to bring it up. Their problems aren’t imagined, they aren’t unmotivated and it is incredibly difficult for them to think positively.
Be there for them.
“How are you feeling, I am concerned about you.” Is a great way to start a conversation when compared to “Why are you being so negative”. You can always be there to listen, avoid providing solutions. Acknowledge their distress. Let them know that they are important to you. Check-in on them often. Please display gestures of love and care. A hug, a kiss or a sweet letter. Make sure you make your kind presence felt, make sure you aren’t being intrusive or preachy. “You’re not alone. I’m here for you during this tough time.”
Avoid lectures and criticism.
All depressed people require support and care. They require guidance. But the guidance can be helpful only if it doesn’t end up making them feel inadequate or guilty. Put in all your efforts to improve communication with your loved one, advice does not help the process. Offer help, make sure they know you are there to help them. “How can I best support you right now?”.
Offer to join your loved one in activities that were pleasurable. Offer lunch dates and dinners. Offer to work out with them. Going on walks together may be a good start. Be gentle while you encourage activity, there is a very fine line between encouragement and advice. Avoid expressing anger or disappointment when your words do not result in anything productive. Be persistent, be loving and be caring. “I know you are having tough day, why don’t we go out for dinner”
Patience and trust
Trust in your loved one’s intentions. Nobody wants to stay depressed. It is a terrible feeling to undergo depression. Trust in your loved one’s strength and ability. It may take some time for your loved one to establish a routine, it might take some time for them to enjoy life again, it might take some time for the antidepressants to work. Make sure you are patient if your loved one’s suffering is making you impatient and restless. Remember that you need to be okay before you can help.
Help them get help
While you can’t control someone else’s recovery from depression, you can start by encouraging the depressed person to seek help. Finding the right doctor or therapist can be difficult, your loved one may simply not have the motivation to seek help, it will help if you can set them up and pitch in when possible.
Take care of yourself
You might feel angry, resentful and burnt out. There is often a sense of helplessness that descends upon people who love and care for those with mental illness. Sometimes we end up directing our anger toward those who are stuck with the illness. You have to remember that you need to take a step back, make sure that at least some of your needs are met before you try to help someone. Make sure you are eating right, make sure you have enough sleep and try to get in touch with supportive friends and family. If you are unable to manage the distress, take help from a professional. Dealing with caregiver burden.
Watch for burnout. You need to be well before you can take care of your loved one.
Here are somethings that may really not help.
- Asking them to “snap out of it”
- Telling them that they are wrong about their feelings
- Saying that their problems are not that bad
- Telling third parties about their feelings
- Threatening to cut contact with them because of their emotions
- Suggesting depression is a choice, or that the right food or lifestyle change is a cure
- Attempting to thrust religious experiences or practices on them
- Ignoring or dismissing thoughts of suicide
- Insisting you know how they feel
- Telling them to stop being negative
- Saying that depression will go away on its own
Your loved one will beat depression, and you will be able to support them through it. Get well soon !