HomeHealthHelping a Loved One With Depression: Understanding and Support Tips

Helping a Loved One With Depression: Understanding and Support Tips

What Are the Signs of Depression?

The first stage in helping someone with depression is to recognise and understand the signs of depression. However, this is not always easy to do. If your loved one is suffering from depression, they may well struggle to let you know or even acknowledge that they are depressed.

Here are some of the signs that you’re loved one is suffering from depression are if they:

  • Seem to be feeling sad or are tearful
  • Say they feel empty, and their situation is hopeless
  • Are anxious or restless
  • Have lost interest in the things they usually enjoy, such as hobbies or sports
  • Have lost interest in sex
  • Have slower speech or movement
  • Are more fidgety and restless than usual
  • Are always tired or lacking in energy
  • Are sleeping too little or too much
  • Are overeating, or have lost their appetite
  • Have trouble concentrating on simple, everyday things, such as reading or watching TV

How Do You Talk to Someone With Depresson?

Talking to someone with depression can be challenging, and it’s not always easy to know what to say to someone,, even if you know them intimately. However, talking and listening to your loved one is one of the most important things you can do for them.

Tips on starting the conversation:

Sometimes, it can be hard to know what to say, but there are some things that you can say to be supportive of your loved one.

Supportive things to say:

  • “I’m sorry you feel like this.”
  • “I’m here for you. “
  • “How are you managing?”
  • “What can I do for you today?”
  • You might also want to ask specific questions like, “Would you like me to keep you company today?”

There are also some things that it’s best to avoid saying:

  • “Cheer up.”
  • “Try to think positively.”
  • “You don’t seem that sad.”
  • These sorts of comments can seem to invalidate or downplay what your loved one is going through.
  • “You just need to get out.”
  • “Just try exercising.”
  • Although exercising and going outside can be beneficial, these comments can make it seem as though what they are experiencing is their fault.
  • “You’re being selfish”, or “Think about how this affects everyone else.”
  • This can make it seem as though their feelings are less important than other people’s feelings and contribute to feelings of worthlessness.

Be Open About Feelings

Many people find it challenging to open up others and talk about their feelings. Try to be open about your emotions, and let them know it’s okay to talk about their feelings. You want to show them that it’s okay to talk about depression.

Listen to what they have to say

It’s common to want to ‘solve’ the problem of your loved one’s depression. To present reasons why things aren’t so bad. This is natural, as you want to help, but it’s not always helpful. Instead, try to simply listen to and accept what they have to say.

Knowing that you’re there for them and willing to listen to them is often all your loved one needs and can be the best thing you can do for them.

Keep in Touch

If you don’t live with your loved one, it can be easy to lose touch, especially as people with depression may struggle to have the energy to stay in touch. They may also feel as though no one would want to speak to them.

Even something as simple as sending a text message, email or DM can make all the difference. Try not to put too much pressure on them to reply, either. It is important for them to know that you’re there for them and that you care.

Give Positive Reinforcement

People with depression may judge themselves harshly and find fault with everything they do. Remind them of their positive qualities and how much they mean to you and the other people in their lives.

However, it’s important to note this is different from saying things are ‘okay’ or that they ‘should be happy.’ Instead, just let them know they have self-worth and that you and others care for them.

How Can You Support Someone With Depression?

Depression isn’t anyone’s fault, and it’s important to remember that you can’t ‘fix’ it. However, there are some things you can do to show understanding and support your loved one.

  • Offer help. Your loved one may be unable to take care of certain tasks, such as domestic chores or paying bills. Suggest specific tasks you’d be willing to do or help them with.
  • Try to make their lives less stressful. Creating a regular routine may help your loved one feel more in control. Try offering to make a schedule to help with meals, medicine, physical activity, sleep and household chores.
  • Urge them to take self-care steps. This can involve eating healthy meals, being physically active and getting enough sleep.
  • Make plans together. Ask them if they want to join you in activities like going for a walk, having a coffee or seeing a film. However, don’t try to force them; let them know it’s okay if they aren’t feeling up to it. Just keeping the offers open can help.

Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of a loved one with depression can be hard on you. Ask for help from family and friends, and don’t try to take on everything.

Try to remember to take time for yourself, too. You may feel like you need to be there for your loved one at all times, but you must look after yourself. Stay active, take time to see your friends, do what you enjoy, and recharge your batteries. Remember that there’s joy in life, so you don’t lose hope, too.

Finally, be patient. It can take a long time for people to recover from depression, and it can be a gradual process with many steps. Some people may recover quickly after treatment, but others may take longer.

When Should You Get Help With Depression?

You’re not alone when it comes to helping your loved one with their depression. Medical professionals can help by offering treatments ranging from self-guided help and exercise to talking therapies and medication. Try to encourage them to seek help from medical professionals.

However, this isn’t always possible, and your loved one may reject professional help or even your help. Try to be patient and accept there are limits to what you can do. Just be supportive and be ready to help them get help when they’re ready.

If you are worried about your loved one or your ability to look after them or simply want more information about what to do, remember you can always speak to your doctor or get online support for depression.

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