9 Tips to Help with Depression
- Be a model. Refuse a “do as I say, not as I do” approach. This only sends the message that you do not truly understand depression. If you want your loved one to go to treatment, go with them. If you suggest that they need to exercise more and eat healthier food, lead by example. Make lists and set daily goals for yourself so you can understand that barriers that get in the way. You may not know the impact of depression but you can illustrate that these activities do provide benefit. If nothing else, engaging in a healthier lifestyle means that you will feel better yourself and have more resources to help your loved one.
- Be patient. Depression is not a condition that improves by “force.” You cannot trick, bribe or persuade your loved one to “get better.” Many supports become frustrated by the lack of motivation in their loved ones. Sometimes it is easier to see them as lazy and complacent than it is to see them as depressed. Instead, frame your thinking around the concept that they have a serious medical condition that affects millions of people daily. When frustrated, return back to your initial goal. Your frustration does not help accomplish your goal.
- Be safe. With depression, there is always a risk of suicide. Don’t wait until your loved one is in a severely depressed episode to become familiar with the law and crisis services in your area. Someone with depression cannot be committed to treatment unless they are at risk of seriously harming self and others. If your loved one is talking a lot about death, seems hopeless or has made a suicidal gesture. Consult mental health crisis services in your area for options. Depression cannot improve if your loved one is no longer able to fight. Protecting them is paramount especially when they cannot protect themselves.
Depression is insidious. It works to make the person with depression more depressed and less likely to follow through with beneficial actions. Depression wants more depression. Realizing that you have an uphill battle does not mean that you should be discouraged. Instead, have expectations of your loved one that are practical and likely to happen. Find ways to help them, get them to help themselves and access the people that can help them more effectively. Depression is the enemy you and your loved one are facing together. Don’t let it win.