What Not To Do
A friend who is suffering from depression needs a safe space where they can vent and express their true emotions. Dont make a friend feel that you fear their emotions or that they need to put on a brave face so you will stick around. Bernat states, In my experience, most folks dont want to talk to depressed people unless we pretend to be happy. So, we learn to put on a cheerful façade for casual interactions, like buying a pumpkin spice latte. The average barista doesnt want to know that a customer is trapped in the infinite darkness of their soul.
Avoid giving advice or saying, ‘I understand what you’re going through’ because it may sound hollow. Dr. Leaf says, Dont just bring up comparisons from your own life or talk about how you feel. If you do feel the need to talk, frame everything as I may be wrong but or I could be reading you wrong and so on. If they react negatively, remain calm and just listen.
Dr. Leaf says, If you suspect your friend is going through something, take the time to hang out with them and just be present. Go into an interaction wanting to engage with that person on topics that interest them, which builds up trust. Doing this will actually help facilitate deep and meaningful conversations in the future, and can make the person more receptive to reaching out to you.
Allow Yourself To Feel What Youre Feeling
Depression and anxiety are medical conditions, not the result of failure or weakness, and theyre absolutely not your fault.
Without a doubt, the unwanted emotions they cause can lead to plenty of distress. But knowing depression and anxiety result from underlying causes and triggers, not anything you did or didnt do, can promote self-compassion instead of criticism or self-punishment.
Encourage Treatment For Symptoms
People with depression may not recognize or acknowledge their symptoms. They may have difficulty seeing the point of getting treatment.
Here’s what you can do to help:
- Talk to the person about what you’ve noticed and why you’re concerned.
- Explain that depression is a complex condition, not a personal flaw or weakness and that effective treatment exists.
- Suggest seeking help from a health care or a mental health professional, such as a licensed counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist. Often, the best place to start for a referral is your primary care provider, especially if a trusting relationship has been established.
- Offer to help prepare a list of questions and notable changes to discuss at an initial consultation.
- Express your willingness to help by setting up appointments, going along to them and attending family therapy sessions.
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Taking A Stance On Medication
Medication can be very helpful for depression, but it doesnt work well for everyone.
Some people dislike its side effects and prefer to treat depression with therapy or natural remedies. Even if you think your friend should take an antidepressant, remember that choosing to take medication is a personal decision.
Likewise, if you personally dont believe in medication, avoid the subject when talking with them. For some people, medication is key in getting them to a place where they can fully engage in therapy and start taking steps toward recovery.
At the end of the day, whether or not someone with depression takes medication is a very personal decision thats generally best left to them and their healthcare professional.
Depression can increase a persons risk of suicide or self-injury, so its helpful to know how to recognize the signs.
Some signs that might indicate your friend is having serious suicidal thoughts include:
- frequent mood or personality changes
- talking about death or dying
- purchasing a weapon
How To Help Someone With Anxiety
All of us worry and get scared from time to time. But those with anxiety may feel consumed by fears of things that might seem irrational to others. It can be hard to relate to these concerns, and as a result, many people dont know how to best help someone with anxiety. People are often dismissive of people experiencing anxiety, says Joseph McGuire, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine. With other medical illnesses, you may be able to see physical symptoms. But with anxiety, you dont necessarily see what the person is dealing with. So its important to be sensitive to what the person with anxiety is going through, even if it doesnt make sense to you. Its distressing to watch a loved one experience panic attacks and face anxiety every day, but there are things you can do to help. It starts with recognizing the signs of excessive worry and understanding the best ways to support your loved one.
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Remember To Take Care Of Yourself
In your attempts to support someone with anxiety or depression, you have to take care of yourself. You cannot provide them with the help they need if you are not paying attention to your own health, which can easily happen if you are giving too much of yourself.
Although it is important to avoid being selfish or making their issues about you, it is similarly important to make sure you do things for your own benefit instead of just for theirs. You cannot anticipate someones needs or shield them from potential stressors. They need to be able to rely on you and be comfortable opening up to you, which they cannot do if you are mentally or physically exhausted.
The best way you can help somebody in this situation is simply by being there when they need you, as a strong and consistent friend, partner, or relative.
For more information about this topic, please visit:
- Mental Health America offers resources for family and friends of someone with a mental illness:
- The GeneSight.com blog aims to educate and inform about issues relating to depression and anxiety:
Our articles are for informational purposes only and are reviewed by our Medical Information team, which includes PharmDs, MDs, and PhDs. Do not make any changes to your current medications or dosing without consulting your healthcare provider.
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Dont Judge Or Criticize
From the outside, youll be able to see lots of ways in which your loved one could improve their life. However, when theyre depressed or anxious, it can be almost impossible for them to think rationally about these topics. So, whether youre trying to figure out how to help your spouse with depression or how to help your friend with depression, avoid negative judgments and critical comments at all costs.
In particular, you should avoid platitudes masquerading as advice, such as You just need to remember that the glass isnt half empty, its half full!.
Before you say anything, make sure it doesnt accidentally imply that the person is making a choice to be anxious or depressed.
Mental health issues are just like any other, physical health problem they are involuntary. Suggesting otherwise can make your loved one feel guilty, misunderstood or isolated. All of these feelings make depression and anxiety symptoms worse, not better.
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How To Help Someone With Anxiety And Depression
Loving someone with anxiety or depression is the definition of lasting love that has no boundaries or limitations. It seeks no reward for thriving in the imperfect nature of humanity, that which makes all of our personal connections so vastly unique. Real love triumphs over the most dangerous of evils those that exist inside each and every one of us.
The intricacies of who are intertwine with those we pull deeply into our lives. Our strengths and weaknesses lie naked and vulnerable to the people we love enough to show them to. Falling in love is letting go. Its understanding that youre worthy of being loved for the totality of who you are and capable of loving another in that same way.
Mental illness is unique. It manifests itself in a multitude of ways. It plays no favorites, chooses no sides and runs from no one. It lives inside some of the people we all love. Throughout their lives, theyve attacked it, tried to reason with it and searched tirelessly for freedom from the moments it has plagued. Theyve sought out love and found that some pieces of who they are cannot be understood or accepted. Theyve had moments of invigorating, phenomenal joy and also moments of dark and unexplainable despair. Theyve endured fear invisible to those around them. Theyve learned to cope, control and live. Theyve climbed mountains no one knew existed. And most importantly, theyve discovered love in you, even with a mind that so relentlessly tries to convince them otherwise.
Stay Calm And Patient
The physical and mental symptoms of panic attacks tend to reinforce each other in a negative feedback loop. Fear of the consequences only increases the intensity of the specific manifestations of panic. As those symptoms worsen the fear will then become greater, leaving the person in an increasingly desperate situation.
During this destructive process, you can act as a calming influence and a voice of reason. Your patience and placidity can produce a sympathetic response in the person having the panic attack, interrupting the progression of the attack and preventing it from turning into something far more serious.
Intervening may not end the panic attack completely. But your soothing presence can help convert it into something more manageable and less earth-shattering.
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Look For Signs That Treatment Is Working
There are lots of little ways to tell when treatment works it will be clear in the ways that your loved one looks and acts, says Angelos Halaris, MD, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of outpatient clinical services at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
As they improve, someone with depression may start making better eye contact with you instead of looking down to avoid eye contact due to feeling vulnerable or anxious. Other signs of improvement, according to Dr. Halaris, include:
- Smiling occasionally and having more relaxed instead of tense facial features
- Having a calmer demeanor
- encouragement to socialize or exercise
- a hug or a hand to hold
- to be left alone sometimes
Helpful questions to ask include:
- What can I do to help?
- Would it be helpful if I ?
My Experience With Stress And Anxiety
I can attest to how important a healthy body is in fighting off stress and anxiety. When I was a young married woman with two children, I had a tendency to stretch myself thinburning the candle at both ends, so to speak. While managing the typical household duties associated with being a wife and mother , I attended university full time to obtain my bachelor’s degree. I also worked part-time to help with household expenses. Life was stressful for me during that time. There were days when I felt as if I would not be able to get to the end of the day alive, and if I did make it I wouldn’t be able to get everything done. I was extremely anxious.
My health began to fade. I feared that I was slipping into depression as I struggled to manage all the day-to-day demands I placed upon myself.
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When To See A Doctor
Anyone who notices the emotional, behavioral, or physical changes that we have discussed in this article may be experiencing depression. If this is the case, it is essential to see a doctor.
The doctor can help diagnose a persons depression and give them the right treatment to feel better.
Leaving depression untreated can harm a persons well-being. Depression is a risk factor for suicide. Therefore, it is vital that a person with depression receives help as soon as possible.
There are several ways to treat depression. Everyone responds to treatment differently, but a doctor can advise a person on which treatment may best suit their needs.
Treatment options include:
Alongside other treatments, certain lifestyle changes and coping strategies can help a person manage depression. For example:
- Regular exercise: Running or even walking briskly outside can produce endorphins and lift a persons mood.
- Creating structure: Sticking to a daily routine may help make each day feel a little easier.
- Breaking down tasks: When big tasks feel unmanageable, breaking them down into smaller tasks may help.
- Yoga, mindfulness, or meditation: These practices may reduce stress and support well-being.
- Talking to friends and family: Sharing feelings with others may make them feel less overwhelming.
- Avoiding alcohol: Reducing alcohol intake may improve mood.
Get Professional Help For Depression
At Advanced Psychiatry Associates, we know how difficult it can be to navigate life with a mental illness like depression. Thats why were the only private, full-service facility in the Sacramento area to offer outpatient services, including managing medications and therapy. We offer services like ketamine treatments and transcranial magnetic stimulation, all to provide compassionate and comprehensive care.
Get in touch to schedule an appointment with us at any of our four locations in Folsom, Sacramento, Roseville and Elk Grove.
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What Not To Say To Someone With Depression
What not to say
Just remember: Advice isnt the same as asking for help. If they ask for your advice, give it if you so choose. But dont offer them helpful solutions or statements that seem like a cure for their depression. This can feel judgmental or not empathetic.
- Just think happy thoughts. I dont understand what you have to be so sad about.
- Everything will be OK, I promise.
- I cut out sugar, and I was cured! You should try it.
- You just need to snap out of this.
- So many people out there are worse off than you.
What Not To Say To People With Depression
Unfortunately, mental illness has a lot of stigma surrounding it. While usually people have good intentions, a lot of the typical phrases people use to comfort those with depression can actually make things worse. Heres some common phrases that should be avoided when caring for those with depression .
- Youve got so much to be happy about.
Why is this a hurtful thing to say? Remember, depression is a diagnosis. It is not an outlook choice. It can happen to people whose lives are devastating or to those who have seemingly perfect lives.
While you may think youre pointing out the positives and helping them to see on the bright side, youre actually invalidating the diagnosis theyve received and are in effect saying they dont deserve it, because they should have all the tools to be happy. More often than not, they know they should be happy. But the illness itself prevents them from being able to. Because of this, its a cause of shame and discouragement.
What can you say instead? Try this: I know its hard for you to see the happy things in life right now. Lets try to think of something that you might enjoy doing sometime.
Instead of making them feel like its their fault, or theyre wrong for feeling the way they do, just be there and help them to create a situation where they can feel happier. Dont expect a total shift, but remind them that youre there to help make things as easy as you can, and that youre there for them.
- Stop being so negative.
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If Someone Has A More Serious Anxiety Problem Avoid Stigmatizing Them
What can we do for folks with more serious issues? People experiencing things like panic disorder, depression mixed with anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or obsessional thinking may fear that theyre literally going crazy. Helping them may feel beyond your ability.
You can still be supportive in many ways. When someone is experiencing significant anxiety, its helpful to reassure them that your overall perception of them hasnt changed. Theyre still the same person theyre just suffering a temporary problem situation that has become out of control. Theyre not broken and who they are hasnt changed. To the extent possible, you can help the person stay connected to positive aspects of their identity by participating in or encouraging their interests and hobbies.
Sometimes, individuals who have chronic anxiety problems arent interested in changing. For example, you might be friends with someone who has agoraphobia or an eating disorder, but their condition is long-term and stable. In these cases, you can be accepting of that person so that they dont feel isolated. Being matter-of-fact about their limitations without excessively shaming them or insisting they should pursue becoming normal is often the best strategy.
Talking To Someone With Depression
- Be ready – are you in a good headspace, and do you have the time?
- Be prepared – are you ready for a difficult conversation where you dont have the answers?
- Pick your moment – have you chosen somewhere comfortable to talk, and an appropriate time?
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Anxiety Causes You To Behave Selfishly
Because anxiety is an overactive fear response, someone experiencing it may at times focus too much on his or her own concerns or problems.
Your worries and fears may be putting unnecessary pressure on your relationship. You may feel like you need to worry in order to protect yourself in your relationship, but it might be keeping you from being compassionate and vulnerable with your partner.
If your partner experiences anxiety, you may build up resentment and react in selfish ways as well. The attitudes and perspectives that we have are contagious. Keeping your stress levels under control is especially hard when your partner is feeling anxious, upset, or defensive.
so attendto your needs, not your fears. When you notice yourself becoming fearful or defensive, take a moment to consider the compassion that you have for yourself and your partner. Clearly ask for the support you need to feel loved and understood. Apologize for letting anxiety make you self-absorbed.
Unhealthy levels of anxiety make you feel as though an emotional rock is in your stomach almost all the time.
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