We’ve all been there. Whether it was after a breakup, losing a loved one, or a job, depression can come and cripple your life. It’s a serious mental health condition that affects millions of people around the world every year.
Depression can make it difficult to enjoy life and do simple things like getting out of bed in the morning. In severe cases, it increases the risk of suicide. If you’ve ever had depression or have been close to someone who has depression, you know how hard it can be for someone who needs help but doesn’t know where to turn.
This guide will walk through some practical ways that you can help your loved one or friend cope with their depression and feel better about themselves again. Also, find out how therapy can help.
Recognizing Depression Symptoms in Your Loved Ones
Depression is a mental illness that can be difficult to understand. It’s essential to know how to help someone with depression if they are in your life. And it starts by understanding what depression actually is.
Depression is more than just feeling sad for a few minutes or hours. It’s an all-encompassing state of mind where the person feels hopeless about their future and experiences certain symptoms.
You should be concerned if your loved one is showing these symptoms:
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Thoughts of suicide
- Social withdrawal
- A bleak or negative outlook on life
- Lack of interest in things they loved doing before
- Drug or alcohol abuse
How to Help Someone Who Is Depressed
To help someone with depression, it’s crucial to understand what they’re going through. Depression impacts a person’s thoughts and feelings, resulting in them feeling sad, hopeless, or cranky for weeks on end.
The symptoms can be so severe that the person may not want to do anything at all — even spending time with their friends or loved ones. Nevertheless, helping someone with depression is possible.
Doing the following will go a long way in supporting your friend or relative through depression.
Listen to Your Loved One
Listening to your friend goes a long way in helping them deal with depression. However, it’s important to understand that your loved ones may have a hard time talking about how they feel if you pressure them, and it will only make the situation worse.
However, when they’re willing to open up, listen to what is going on in their life without judgment or criticism. Doing this can help heal some of their wounds.
Also, instead of giving advice, try to engage your friend by using active listening techniques such as:
- Reflecting what they’ve said and summarizing it in your own words
- Giving them a chance to talk without interruption
- Helpfully paraphrasing their emotions or thoughts that you hear from the conversation. This can help validate how they feel
- Asking questions to get more information instead of assuming you know what they mean without all the details
Help Them Find Support
Your friend may not be aware that they need help, or they may not be ready to admit it. Encourage them by sharing your experiences in a way that is non-judgmental and supportive of their decision. This can show them there are people who understand what they’re going through and want to support them.
Also, offer gentle reminders about the importance of self-care and suggest seeking professional help. If your friend is open to counseling, offer to help them find a therapist.
Seeking psychotherapy for depression is the best thing you can do if you don’t know how to help someone undergoing depression.
Support Them in Their Treatment
Depression is an uphill battle. Some days, your friend will be open to attending their therapy sessions, but on others, they may be too tired or overwhelmed to attend. Encourage them to keep going and help them out with transportation if necessary.
Encouragement is the key thing your friend needs from you right now, you must regularly provide kind words of support for their recovery efforts.
Ensure They Are Taking Care of Their Physical Health
Encourage them to get the sleep they need, eat healthy food, and exercise regularly. Suggest that they start meditating or practicing yoga which can help with easing their anxiety and depression.
If your friend is open to it, you could also offer to join them in physical activity or hobby to keep them busy and combat feelings of isolation.
Offer to Help Them Develop a Routine
A regular bedtime, an exercise regimen, or the habit of eating breakfast every day can all make a big difference in their moods and energy levels.
It’s important for people going through depression to keep themselves occupied. But it’s also crucial that they don’t overexert themselves with too many commitments.
Learn About Depression
There are numerous myths about depression and how it should best be treated, which can lead people who suffer from the illness to feel stigmatized or shamed for their condition. If you’re not sure if a mental health professional has diagnosed someone as clinically depressed, avoid making judgments.
If you know someone who is struggling with this illness, you must educate yourself about the realities of their condition. This way, you’ll not only know what to say when someone’s depressed but also be able to better help them with their struggles.
Take Care of Yourself
Helping someone who is depressed is a challenging and taxing job. Therefore, it’s only fair to take care of yourself so that you can continue being a supportive friend or family member for the person who is suffering from depression.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by their struggles, don’t hesitate to reach out for help with coping strategies to meet your obligations better while taking care of them.
Extend Loose Invitations
People diagnosed with clinical depression find it difficult to enjoy activities because of their low mood. Even though your friend or family member with depression may not feel up to joining you, it’s still essential for them to maintain as much social contact as possible. This way, they’ll not be isolated and withdrawn from the world around them.
Don’t be discouraged if they turn down these invitations. Instead, encourage them to join you for a simple activity like watching TV or taking a walk to limit their isolation and distract them.
Stay in Touch
You don’t need to be an expert on how to help someone who’s depressed — just be a good friend. The more you’re able to engage them, the better they’ll feel over time.
In addition, don’t forget that your loved one with depression is also battling other emotions like guilt and anger that can lead to self-destructive behaviors such as alcohol abuse or drug addiction.
So friends and family need to be there to support them and reduce the likelihood of turning to self-destructive behaviors because they feel alone.
Whether your friend has been diagnosed with postpartum depression or has shown symptoms of depression for any number of reasons, it’s essential to know the signs and take action. It may be as simple as providing love and support or suggesting that they talk with someone about their feelings.
Calmerry’s licensed therapists help people with depression to learn new skills and manage their symptoms.