How to Help Someone With Depression
Depression offers no prejudice, touching people from all walks of life, young and old alike. It affects everyday life causing pain, anger, and sadness, and not just to those suffering, but for those who love them.
When a friend or family member is sick, it's usually our first instinct to want to help them or try to fix them.
This can be challenging when it comes to a mental illness such as depression because while it is treatable, it often takes time and some lifestyle adjustments before there is a noticeable change.
Helping someone with depression doesn't have to be difficult; there are some things that you can do to help and show your support in the meantime.
Know the Symptoms
Family and friends are in the best position for helping someone with depression. That is why it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression.
Loved ones usually notice there is a problem long before the depressed person does, and your concern and encouragement can persuade someone to seek help.
You can help your loved ones by recognizing what they can’t and expressing what's hard to define.
Here are some of the primary symptoms to watch for:
- Sleep problems. If your love is struggling to sleep at night or waking up during the evening or very early in the morning, this might be a depression warning sign. Sleeping too much is also a possible sign.
- Changes to eating habits. If your loved one is eating too much or too little, they could be depressed. Weight loss and weight gain are also telltale signs if you are not aware of your loved one’s new eating habits.
- A bleak outlook. Your loved one might frequently express sadness, irritability, or moodiness. They may talk about feeling hopeless or helpless.
- Complaints of aches and pains. Frequent headaches, stomachaches, back pain or all over body pain are physical symptoms of depression, as is feeling exhausted and drained all the time.
- Feelings of anger and irritability. It is a struggle just getting through the day when you are depressed. The simplest tasks can become difficult and cause anger and frustration.
- A loss of interest in most everything. If your loved one has lost interest in work, spending time with loved ones, hobbies, sex, etc. and has resorted to activities that require little willpower and energy, such as sitting in front of the TV all the time, there is a reason to be concerned.
The symptom that stood out for me was a general feeling of mental and emotional exhaustion that I tried to express to loved ones but couldn’t. I felt mentally and emotionally tired, and relief seemed out of my reach.
Loving Someone with Depression
When helping someone with depression, you might feel helpless, confused, angry, scared and worried. It is okay for you to believe these things because loving someone with depression isn’t easy.
You probably wonder what it is you can do to help your loved one. The best thing you can do is to learn all you can about depression and how to talk about it with your loved one.
As you are helping someone with depression, make sure you are looking after your emotional health because you won’t be much help to anyone if you are struggling too.
And thinking about your needs isn’t selfish. Your strength will allow you to provide your depressed friend or family member with the support they desperately need.
Depression is not a temporary mood change nor is it a sign of weakness. It's a real medical disorder that causes emotional, physical, cognitive and behavioral symptoms.
Because depression carries a societal stigma, many people who suffer from depression are afraid or too ashamed to seek help. Others downplay their symptoms and suffer in silence.
I had viewed depression as a sign of weakness and was afraid that the people who relied on me to be strong couldn’t anymore. I didn’t seek help out of fear of disappointing loved ones.
You can’t “fix” your loved one, or you cannot force them to apply for treatment. Recovery from depression is in their hands.
All you can do is offer support, love, and kindness and the rest is up to them when helping someone with depression.
If you can be there your loved one, you should. Even when they push you away and even when they are difficult to be around because one day, that person will be stronger and he or she will appreciate your patience, kindness, and love.