Depression is a very difficult illness to live with, but it’s also very hard for the people around them. Dealing with a close friend or relative with depression is pretty tough. That’s because you just want that person to be happy again, and it can sometimes seem like they’re not doing anything to help themselves.
That’s one of the worst things about depression- they know that they need to get up and get outside, but at the same time, they don’t have the energy or motivation to do it. This can lead to a lot of frustration, but it’s important that you don’t give up on this person.
Most people don’t really know what they should do to help. Often times, this leads to drifting away from that person because they don’t know what to say or do to make the situation better. But giving up is the last thing you should do. As a matter of fact, if you have a loved one with depression, you have to show support.
If somebody close to you has depression and you don’t know how to deal with it properly, here are some of the best things you can do to help them:
1. Help Them Recognize the Issue
A lot of people who have depression are often reluctant to admit they have a problem and need to seek help. Though you’re not a qualified expert and you can’t offer them the professional help they need, you can try to help them recognize that they have a problem.
Here’s a good read on the effectiveness of online psychiatry.
It’s important that you don’t push them too much by telling them they have depression and need to go see a doctor. That’s because they’re likely to withdraw, and this can make things a lot worse. Instead, just tell them that you have noticed a change in their mood and behavior recently. Tell them honestly if you’re a bit worried about them. This may encourage them to open up and consider the possibility they actually have depression.
If they are open to the idea, you should see if they’re willing to take a self depression test online. If the results come back and suggest they might need treatment, this could be what encourages them to see a doctor. Having impartial advice that doesn’t come from you or anybody else that they know could be a major help.
2. Don’t Tell Them What You Would Do
This is a mistake that a lot of people make. Even though you might have the best intentions, it just doesn’t help the situation. It’s easy to believe if you were in their situation you would be able to get out of bed and clean the house because it makes you feel better. But this isn’t always true for everybody. They might not be ready to take those steps yet or maybe it just isn’t what they need.
Depression affects everybody in different ways and you need to let that person figure out what works best for them. Forcing suggestions on them and trying to push them to do things won’t help.
3. Encourage Them to Do Positive Things
You shouldn’t try to force them to do things, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t gently encourage them to do positive things either. For example, running is a great treatment for mental health problems so you should encourage them to go out with you for a run.
Don’t say, “you need to go running if you want to feel better”. Just say that you’re going for a run and they’re welcome to come along. They may say no, but at least it shows that you’re thinking about them. This may help your loved one realize that it could be good for them. As long as you aren’t pressuring them and you’re just extending an invitation, it’s fine.
4. Validate Their Feelings
The things you think and feel when you have depression are not logical at all. When people are trying to help somebody with depression, they often think it’s a good idea to tell them everything is fine. They might tell them they have nothing to be upset about, but that doesn’t help the situation.
It’s important that you validate their feelings and let them know it’s ok for them to feel and think things that are illogical. It’s just a symptom of their depression. Showing an understanding and being sympathetic is far more helpful than just telling them to snap out of it.
5. Be Available
People suffering with depression might not always want to talk or be around people, and you just have to respect that. Trying to force it on them is only going to make the situation worse. The important thing is that you’re available and you’re there for them when they do decide they want to talk to someone. The best thing that you can do is to make sure you’re there when they need it.
6. Help Them Find Treatment
Hopefully there will come a time when your loved one recognizes they have a problem and they need treatment to help them deal with their depression. If they reach out to you and express a desire to get help then you need to do whatever\r you can to help them find treatment.
Making that first step is tough and having somebody close to them to support them will be such a huge blessing. Spend some time doing a bit of research into the different treatments available, whether that is different types of therapy or medication. Then go through the information with them. Speaking with a GP is usually the best place to start. And you should also help your loved one decide which treatment they think will work best.
The most important thing to remember when you’re trying to help somebody with depression is that you need to be patient with them and let them progress at their own pace.