Although many people have heard about depression, not everyone understands it or how to provide support for a loved one suffering from it. Depression is a condition that negatively impacts a person’s mental state. It affects how a person thinks, acts, and feels. When your loved one suffers from depression, it decreases their ability to function normally at home and work. Depression symptoms can be mild or severe. Some common ones are the loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, restlessness, suicidal thoughts, and the feeling of sadness, worthlessness, or guilt. Someone suffering from depression may also experience fatigue, insomnia (difficulty sleeping), or changes in their appetite, leading to weight gain or weight loss that are unrelated to dieting.
Some depression symptoms manifest on their own over time and can be linked to genetic traits. Others show up after someone experiences severe life traumas like losing a loved one or emotional or physical abuse. Regardless of the cause, people suffering from depression can get better if they have the proper support. Here’re effective ways to help a loved one going through depression.
1. Talk to Your Loved One
Speak with your depressed loved one calmly about what they’re going through. To encourage them to be open with you, start by talking about the recent changes you’ve observed that worry you. Communicate naturally, give them room to respond to you, and listen attentively. Do not be judgemental and avoid playing down their feelings.
Also, show genuine interest in what they’re saying with your body language and be empathic. Sometimes, a loved one suffering from depression may not be willing to talk when you first approach them for a conversation. If that’s the case, don’t be pushy. Give them the space they want at the time but keep telling them that you care. You can bring up the conversation again later.
2. Educate Yourself About Depression
Educating yourself about depression can help you understand your loved one’s experience. Learn about the causes, symptoms, available treatments, myths, and misconceptions about the condition. Since people experience depression symptoms differently, try finding out your loved one’s specific symptoms and how they feel. When you learn about their symptoms, you can better assist them and yourself if any crisis occurs. Avoid asking them to explain depression to you generally, as they might find that overwhelming.
3. Help Your Loved One Get Treatment
You can encourage your loved one suffering from depression to seek medical help and get the support they need. Considering that most depressed persons lack motivation or drive generally, they may find it difficult to even search for a doctor or book an appointment. Also, people suffering from depression often feel hopeless. So, they may feel that their situation is hopeless and that treatment is pointless. Offer to help your loved one find a therapist or doctor and follow them on the first visit.
The doctor might recommend ketamine infusion therapy or other treatments for depression. If your loved one resists getting help, you can suggest a general check-up with a doctor. The doctor may diagnose depression and recommend a psychologist or psychiatrist. Since it’s a professional opinion, your loved one might be willing to go with it. Encourage your loved one to make a comprehensive list of the symptoms they’re experiencing to discuss with the doctor.
4. Lower Your Expectations for their Recovery
Depression does not have a specific recovery timeline, and the recovery process is generally slow. So, don’t expect your loved one to bounce back immediately when they’ve started receiving treatment. Even if they’re showing promising signs of recovery, don’t assume that they’re cured because your loved one may keep having some depression symptoms from time to time. Having this in mind will help you avoid getting frustrated if symptoms resurface.
5. Offer To Help Your Loved One with Daily Tasks
When someone suffers from depression, they usually find daily tasks overwhelming, like grocery shopping, paying bills, cleaning the house, or doing laundry. As a result, such tasks pile up, and they find it difficult to know where to start. Your depressed loved one might not be able to say what exactly they need help with, but they’ll appreciate it when you offer to help. This will make their work seem less daunting and send a subtle message saying they’re not alone.
6. Find Time for Yourself
Watching your loved one struggle in life because of depression might trigger a natural impulse to fix the problem. However, the recovery from depression isn’t a single day’s affair, and it’s not entirely under your control. So, avoid losing yourself in the process and forgetting that it’s equally essential for you to stay healthy. You won’t do your loved one any good if you become ill because of the pressure of trying to help them.
So, deliberately practice self-care by getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, exercising, doing things you enjoy, and spending time with friends and family. That way, you’ll have enough energy to help your loved one. Very importantly, speak out kindly if the depressed person wrongs you and set clear boundaries on what you are able and willing to do for them. Honest communication will help your relationship with them in the long run and prevent the build-up of negative emotions.