Guide to Supporting Someone with Depression
Depression affects over 300 million adults and children across the world. As such a large number of people are affected by this disease, the chances are high that you know someone who suffers from depression.
When someone you know suffers from depression you may ask yourself, “How can I help.” First, it’s vital to remember to look after your mental health while helping others. Second, you need to educate yourself about depression, the different symptoms that commonly occur in depression, and how to speak with a friend or loved one about their depression before you attempt to assist them.
Talking to a friend or loved one about depression can be intimidating. Here are a few things our team put together so you can do to help someone who is suffering from depression.
Learn the Facts about Depression
While people experience depression differently, being familiar with the general symptoms and terminology can help you have more in-depth conversations with a friend or family member.
You can read books, websites, or blogs, but it’s essential to make sure you are digesting truthful information regarding depression. Check the sources each time and make sure they are creditable. Below are a few resources to help get you started.
- What is depression?
- How does it affect people differently?
- How to recognize depression in friends and family
- If you start to notice any of the following before someone you love does, you can work to start the conversation and motivate them to seek help:
- No longer seem to care about the things that had been important to them previously
- Expresses a bleak or negative outlook on life
- Frequently complains of aches and pains
- Sleeps less than usual or oversleeps
- Eats more or less than usual
- Drinks or abuses substances
- What are the treatment options for depression?
It would be best if you remembered that each person with depression faces challenges that are unique to them. Use some of the other tips in this article to support someone fully.
How to Talk to Someone About Depression?
When someone you love has depression, you can feel disconnected from the person you had been close to. Open up a conversation and speak in a nonjudgmental fashion to better help support the person you love. Remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice.
Talking to a loved one about depression can still be an intimidating conversation to have; here are a few tips to help you:
- Don’t expect a single conversation to be the end of it
- Questions to start the conversation
- I have been feeling concerned about you lately.
- Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.
- Questions that are great to ask
- When do you begin feeling like this?
- How can I best support you?
- Have you thought about getting help?
- Things to say during the conversation
- I’m here for you
- You’re not alone. I’m here for you during this time.
- You’re essential to me; tell me what I can do to help you.
- Even if I cannot understand your feelings, I care about you and want to help.
- Things that may be experienced as judgmental during the conversation, such as:
- You can snap out of it
- Everyone goes through tough times
- Try thinking positive or looking on the bright side
- Remember to be a compassionate listener during these conversations.
- Ask how you can help.
- It may seem simple, but asking how you can help will allow them to respond to you. They may not answer right away or tell you anything, and that is okay. Asking helps show them you care and are making an effort to help. If they do respond, it’s essential to follow through.
Supporting Your Loved One During Before, During, and After Treatment
Depression can zap energy and make even the smallest tasks seem impossible for someone suffering from depression. Try to offer hope, avoid judgment or blame, and be patients with your loved one during their treatment. Understand that response to treatment for depression doesn’t happen overnight; here are a few ways you can support your friend or loved one while they strive to get better.
Encouraging someone to seek professional help
Remember, you won’t be able to control someone else’s decisions, but you can encourage your friend or loved one to seek professional help. Helping a loved one to get into treatment can be tricky since depression involves negative thinking in which they may believe treatment is pointless.
Once they find the support and provider they want to speak with, you can help them by continuing to support them, to be honest with their provider and their symptoms. If you are close with your friend or loved one, you can event attend their appointment (if they invite you) to show your support for their treatment.
Support Their Treatment
Treatment for depression can include a lot of different treatments and often can be overwhelming for someone suffering from depression. You must understand what their treatment plan involves so you can encourage them to continue.
Many people with depression take medications. One way you can support someone with depression is to understand what medications they are taking. Educate yourself on how the medication work, what side effects can come from it, and what are the symptoms of stopping the medication cold. You can also help to keep them organized and make sure they are taking their medication when prescribed. If their treatment plan includes proper diet and exercise, then you can encourage them to take a walk with you daily or help to create a meal plan for the week. You can also inspire your loved one to keep their appointments with their therapist or doctor.
Lastly, offer hope and encouragement that the treatment plan is working whenever your loved one wants to accept it. Depression usually gets better with treatment, but it can be a slow process. Know what is important to your friend or loved one and find ways to remind them of it when they feel down or hopeless. People suffering from depression often feel stigmatized as being weak or defective. Help to fight the stigma by talking about depression as an illness that needs to be treated.
Stay in Touch
If you don’t live with them, you must stay in touch. Letting them know you still care about them as they work through their depression can help. I know we are all busy, but a phone call can go a long way. Try to check in with them regularly. Even a text that says, “Thinking about you, can we connect soon.” can go a long way.
Extend loos invitations to get together regularly. People living with depression can often isolate themselves. They may have a difficult time reaching out to friends and loved ones. Don’t get discouraged if they cancel on you. Make sure to keep extending invitations to activated even if you know they won’t be able to make it.
Remember, your mental well-being is important too.
When you care about someone who’s living with depression, it’s tempting to drop everything to be by their side and support them. It’s not wrong to want to help a friend, but it’s also essential to take care of your own needs. Make sure you aren’t feeling overwhelmed or depleted yourself. It can be essential to take a step back from time to time and restore your mental well-being.
- Depression: Supporting a Family Member or Friend – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression/art-2004594
- 10 Ways To Help Someone With Depression – Nancy Schimelpfening – https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-help-someone-with-depression-1065117
- Helping Someone with Depression – https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/helping-someone-with-depression.htm