Support Your Loved One In Their Day
While starting treatment is a crucial component to managing depression, your loved one may still need help with their daily functioning. One good way to help may be offering to go to a therapy appointment with them to hear directly from their mental healthcare provider, says Michelle Riba, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry and associate director of the Comprehensive Depression Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
You can also offer to help them with tasks that may feel overwhelming, like grocery shopping, laundry, or cleaning the house, or simply suggest you take a quick walk around the block together to get them out and about, Dr. Riba says.
Establishing a routine is also very helpful, says Thames. You might try to make that walk happen every day, for example. Regular physical activity can help ease stress and release endorphins and other neurotransmitters, or chemicals in the brain, that play a role in boosting mood, Thames says.
One form of treatment for depression is behavioral activation, which involves engaging in activities one find meaningful, such as doing an enjoyable form of exercise or volunteering, according to the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
Encouraging your loved one to do activities that give them personal satisfaction is important but dont go overboard with activities and socializing, Thames cautions.
Small Steps Big Impact
If a person feels sustained, intense, feelings of sadness or loss of interest in activities, they may have clinical depression. People also refer to this condition as major depressive disorder.
However, there are small steps you can take to help you gain more agency in your life and improve your sense of well-being.
Read on to learn how to incorporate these strategies in a way that makes sense for you.
Remind Them You’re There For Them
Depression can feel as though no one understands what you are feeling or even cares enough to try to understand, which can be isolating and overwhelming.
Research has shown that people tend to withdraw when they are depressed, so reaching out to a friend in need is an important first step. If your friend isn’t ready to talk, continue to offer your support by spending time with them and try to check in regularly, either in person, on the phone, or by text.
When you reach out to a friend, letting them know that you are going to be there every step of the way can be very reassuring.
You may not quite know what this will look like at first, but know that just reminding your friend that you are someone they can lean on can mean the world.
How Can I Help Someone With Depression
Depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects millions of people, from young to old and from all walks of life. It gets in the way of everyday life, causing tremendous pain, hurting not just those suffering from it but also impacting everyone around them.
If someone you love is depressed, you may be experiencing any number of difficult emotions, including helplessness, frustration, anger, fear, guilt, and sadness. These feelings are all normal. Its not easy dealing with a friend or family members depression. And if you neglect your own health, it can become overwhelming.
That said, your companionship and support can be crucial to your loved ones recovery. You can help them to cope with depression symptoms, overcome negative thoughts, and regain their energy, optimism, and enjoyment of life. Start by learning all you can about depression and how to best talk about it with your friend or family member. But as you reach out, dont forget to look after your own emotional healthyoull need it to provide the full support your loved one needs.
Understanding depression in a friend or family member
Depression is a serious condition. Dont underestimate the seriousness of depression. Depression drains a persons energy, optimism, and motivation. Your depressed loved one cant just snap out of it by sheer force of will.
Other Sites That Can Help
www.atareira.org.nz – Support, education and information for family and whnau.Carers New Zealand – Information and support for people in caregiver roles.Mental Health Foundation – Information about mental health covering a range of topics.Small Steps – A range of simple tools you can use to manage your stress, anxiety and low mood.
How Friendship Can Help Depression
The benefits of friendship for people that are depressed are astounding.² Relationships, although not a substitute for professional therapy, can help people dealing with depression with their healing. Dr. Leaf says, A strong friendship can help heal someones thinking habits and improve how the brain functions, helping them gain clarity into their situation, building up mental resilience and encouraging them to face and overcome what is causing them distress.
Friendship is all about supporting each other in good times and in bad. Although depression can challenge a strong friendship, it doesnt make it impossible for the friendship to continue. In fact, the friendship can be beneficial to both parties. Dr. Leaf explains, Studies show that helping others can also increase our own healing by up to 63%! This is why it is so important to try to be there for a friend who is experiencing mental distress on both the person that is ill and the supportive friend.
Taking Care Of Yourself Too
One of the key parts of helping a depressed friend is to be sympathetic but not empathetic. Dr. Saltz says, You want your friend to know that you understand that he feels bad without allowing the depression itself to pull you in.
When supporting a friend with depression, try not to take what they say or do personally. Understand that their actions or reactions to your kindness may be influenced by the depression itself. Dr. Leaf says, Rather than seeing the situation as this person is attacking me and how can they do this after all I have done for them!, realize that the other persons thoughts and actions may be distorted because of what they are going through.
If possible, dont go it alone. Supporting a person with depression can be very draining so its best not to have one sole caregiver. If you feel overwhelmed or that your friend is too reliant on you, resist the urge to abandon them. Instead, enlist the help of their friends and family to create a support system they can reach out to. Also, a dont take it upon yourself to act as their therapist. Friendship is important but it is not a substitute for professional help.
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How To Help Someone Who Is Depressed And Suicidal
Suicidal thoughts and feelings are sometimes a part of depression. If you recognize any warning signs of suicide in your loved one, you must take them seriously.
If you notice any warning signs of suicide, or if your loved one lets you know that theyre having suicidal thoughts, take appropriate action right away. Dont panic, and talk to the person about your concerns. Dont beat around the bush, and address the issue of suicide directly.
If its safe and appropriate to do so, let other people in your loved ones life know about your worries. Provide your loved one with the national suicide hotline number: 1-800-273-8255. You can also call this number yourself to ask for guidance about the best course of action for someone in your position.
If appropriate, help your loved one make a safety plan. Please help them remove any dangerous or sharp objects from their reach, including knives, firearms, ropes, and certain medications. Please encourage them to tell their medical provider or therapist about their suicidal thoughts.
Keep in mind that not all suicidal thoughts equal a crisis. For example, many people have passive thoughts about wanting to die but never make an action plan to end their lives. You can use the Columbia Protocol to ask your loved ones questions and determine if theyre going through a mental health crisis.
For more information about how to help someone who is suicidal, visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call them at 1-800-273-8255.
Make Sure Youre Not The Only Person Who Knows
If your friend is depressed or suicidal, however the conversation goes, there can be great pressure if you thinkyoure alone in supporting the person. Cordero says its important to help the person identify a support network by asking questions like:
Who else have you talked to about this?Have you talked to your mom or X or Y person?Who else do you think could also be involved in helping to support you?
If they can name other people, great, she says. Otherwise, you can make suggestions. Parents, a significant other, another friend, or a therapist are all good contacts. If youre asked not to tell anyone, keep your word unless you think theyre suicidal. The one time its okay to break that confidentiality is when you feel like theyre going to be of harm to themselves or to someone else, right? says Rosen.
If your friend already has a therapist, and you know the persons name,another thing you can do is call the therapists office and leave a message. The therapist cant share any information with youdue to HIPAA privacy laws, but nothing prevents the therapist from listening to you and incorporating your thoughts into your friends care. The therapist may not call you back, but at least you know that the therapist knows.
Head of a Woman,
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Things You Dont Say To Someone Who Is Depressed
Your role is to help your friend or family member feel more comfortable talking to you about their problems. Thats it. You dont need to fix anything. You dont need to research anything. You are letting them know that the door is open to discuss the unchangeable. The more you help someone feel understood, the less depressed they will feel.
Practice asking these kinds of questions, and youll feel closer to the people you care about, and theyll feel closer to you.
Tell Them You Understand
Before you tell someone “I understand,” you should be certain that you actually do. Have you ever experienced clinically significant depression? If you have, it may be helpful for your friend to hear that you have experienced what they are feeling and that it can get better.
Keep in mind, however, that there are several different types of depression, and even if you did experience clinical depression, it may have been very different than what your friend is going through.
If what you have been through was a case of the blues, on the other hand, your friend may feel like you are trivializing their experience by comparing it to yours.
In this case, it would be best to simply admit that you don’t understand exactly what they are going through, but that you care about them and want to try. Often, the best words to say are, “I don’t understand, but I really want to.”
What To Say When Someone Is Depressed Or Anxious
You could start the conversation by asking questions such as: It seems like things have been hard for you lately. Whats on your mind? and: What can I do to help?
Something Ive learnt is to ask sincere, open-ended questions like, How does this feel? So the other person can feel supported, comforted and safe, rather than being told what to do. ayrc_1904
When you want to bring up a sensitive issue with a friend, try to choose a time and place when youre both comfortable, relaxed and theres some privacy. Dont push them if they dont want to talk, and be there for them if they become upset. You might not have an answer or a solution, but just being there to listen can be super helpful.
It might be difficult for your friend to accept your help continue to check in with them and let them know that you care about them, and that youre there for them if they need you.
If Someone Tells You Theyre Depressed What Should You Say Next
I think its really important that you dont feel like you have to fix it, but just be curious and listen to your friends experience, says Rosen. She advises asking questions like: What has it been like for you? Are you able to function at work? How are you doing at school?These should lead into the most important question to ask: Has it ever gotten so bad that you feel like hurting yourself or you want to end things?A lot of people wrongly think that asking about suicide will give someone the idea to do it. But experts say thats not how suicide works and that its really, really important to ask about suicide directly. By not asking, you could isolate a friend even more, and cause the person to spiral even further into suicidal thoughts.
Unless youre a mental-health professional, its not worth following up with hyperspecific, nitty-gritty questions like When did you start feeling bad? or What makes you feel worse? because whatever the person says will put you in a position of needing to share advice youre not qualified to give.
The next step would be trying to see if theyve actually been clinically diagnosed, says Cordero. Have they done any of the screenings? Suggest they take an online test its the same quiz theyd take in a primary-care doctors office, where people are encouraged to start seeking help for depression in order to rule out any other medical conditions.
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Support Them To Seek Help For Depression
All types of depression are treatable, whether your loved one is struggling with clinical depression, seasonal affective disorder or any other type of depression, and this is a key message to try and reinforce to your loved one. Connecting with a mental health professional means that your loved ones condition can be evaluated and some proactive next steps put in place but only if they feel ready.
If theyre nervous about speaking to a professional, offer to go with them to any initial appointments and help them to make a list of their symptoms to talk through.
Ways You Can Help A Friend With Depression
10 Ways You Can Help a Friend with Depression
Depression can affect anyone. Yet, it is still an illness that many people don’t understand. People talk about mental illness much more than they used to. Even so, there is still a stigma attached to mental health. A stigma that prevents many people from being open about depression. If you have a friend with depression, it can be difficult to know what you can do to help them. Here are ten ways that you can help a friend who is suffering from depression.
1. Educate Yourself
The first thing to do if you want to help someone with depression is to learn more about the illness. If you have never suffered from depression, it can be very difficult to empathize with someone who is. There are lots of very good resources online that you can refer to. So, do some research and then you will be much better equipped to offer your friend help and support.
2. Take It Seriously
Depression is not something that someone can snap out of. You can’t fix the problem with one good night out, for example. When you are talking to someone with depression, don’t try to make light of the condition. Depression is a serious illness. You won’t be able to help a depressed person by telling them to cheer up or to pull themselves together and get over it.
3. Become a Good Listener
4. Encourage Them to Get Help
5. Offer Practical Help
6. Keep Them in The Loop
7. Don’t Try to Be an Expert
8. Don’t Belittle the Condition
10. Be Patient
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Risk Factors For Depression
Depression can affect anyoneeven a person who appears to live in relatively ideal circumstances.
Several factors can play a role in depression:
- Biochemistry: Differences in certain chemicals in the brain may contribute to symptoms of depression.
- Genetics: Depression can run in families. For example, if one identical twin has depression, the other has a 70 percent chance of having the illness sometime in life.
- Personality: People with low self-esteem, who are easily overwhelmed by stress, or who are generally pessimistic appear to be more likely to experience depression.
- Environmental factors: Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty may make some people more vulnerable to depression.
Assure Them They’re Not Weak Or Defective
Those who are coping with depression tend to feel weak or that there is something wrong with them. While depression is an illness, those who live with it may feel that it’s a character flaw.
Reassure your friend that depression really is an illness caused by a biochemical imbalance in the brain, and it does not mean that they are weak. In fact, it takes a great deal of strength to fight back, so they are probably much stronger than they think they are.
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Depression Treatment At The Center A Place Of Hope
If your loved one is suffering from depression, there is hope. The Center has been voted a Top Ten facility for depression treatment, and our team can help your loved one start making progress toward recovery.
Our unique Whole Person Care approach ensures that your loved ones depression treatment will address the physical, emotional, intellectual, relational, and spiritual elements of their life. In this way, they can start healing from the different ways that depression has affected them.
Get your loved one back from the throes of depression. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your family.