If you have a friend or a loved one who is diagnosed with depression. You may be clueless as to how to help them. The person may not voice out as to what they need that can help them deal better because it is a part of depression. Your loved one is dealing with too many emotions and thoughts at a moment and is overwhelmed to deal with it. Here is a list of things that you can do to help them dealing with depression in a better way.
It is really important that you are aware of what your loved one is going through. Hence it is recommended that you make yourself familiar with what depression is. It is a disorder which has roots of chemical imbalance, it is not just a mood out of which an individual can snap out as and when needed. Be aware of the signs, causes, and treatment. Also make yourself familiar with signs of suicide, as any person who is undergoing depression might find harming themselves as an easy option. So look for the warning signs.
You can go through this article to understand better about signs of depression.
There will be times when your loved one is going through a difficult depressive episode and would want to vent out their feelings. It is at this time that you need to show your true support to them by listening. It has to be without biases and judgments, let them talk their heart out. If instead of talking your friend wants to sit in silence in your presence, be comfortable with that silence. Support should not just be verbal it can be non-verbal as well such as a hug, a touch on the shoulder, or sitting in silence with them.
Be prepared if you receive an unfavorable reaction from your friend. At times your loved one may be dealing with denial or fearful to accept that they are undergoing depression and as a result, they might backlash on you for helping them. You need to understand and accept them during these times. Let them move in their pace and work on depression.
Give them space
We all have that internal urge to help our loved ones, to make them feel better. But it is not in our hand as to how others will feel. You might feel strongly to “fix their problems”, “provide a solution” to them, but you need to know each person has their own pace of dealing with depression. Offer support by saying things like “I understand it must be tough”, “I am here for you when you are ready to talk”, “You do not have to deal with this alone” etc. Try to limit questions, do not give them a solution, have patience when dealing with them.
Do not Judge
The last thing your loved one would want is to be judged by you. At times your friend might be in the continuous loop of self-degradation, but you need to understand that it is depression which is making them self-hate. By indulging in arguments, showing them evidence of why their thinking is distorted might push them down in their progress. There are time and a space as to when and how you need to do it. So do not give them suggestions on what to do and not do. Do not tell them that by praying harder or distracting themselves or going out to chill can help them. These are temporary solutions and do not fix depression permanently.
Help them seek support
Considering how crippling depression can be, at times your friend may be dealing with serious issues to which a mental health professional can help better. It is recommended that you help them get in touch with appropriate services for the same. They might be fearful to seek help, you can lend a support by accompanying them to a professional’s appointment. You need to make them believe it is okay to feel this way and you are there with them in each step of it.
Depression impacts the self-worth of a person, it makes them question their own strengths. In such a state be a voice for your friend, encourage them and make them believe themselves.
Remind them of their strengths and accomplishments such as “You are a great singer, I admire the courage that you have to face an audience when you sing on a stage”.
It is very gratifying when someone trusts you enough to let them peak you in their intimate life. Your loved one has taken the risk and shared their worst phase with you. Treat them with respect and respect their right to confidentiality. Do not engage in cocktail party discussion about your friend. Seek permission before providing their information to someone else unless there is a suicidal risk is involved. If they lose trust on you they might not seek help again and it would validate their thoughts of lack of self-worth and guilt.
Focus on self
Being there for someone with depression can be emotionally and physically draining for you. In such situations, it is important that you focus on self as well. Abandoning your health will only make the situation worst.
-It is okay to feel frustrated when helping. We all are humans, when the progress is slow it can be difficult to keep pushing yourself to provide help.
– Make time to relax. You do not have to push away things that you enjoy to provide care. Fix routine for yourself where you have few minutes of alone time
-Set boundaries– it can be exhausting to always be there. But it is okay to set boundaries such as saying “I do want to help and listen to you, but today I am feeling tired let us connect again tomorrow when I am mentally present and can give you my 100%”.
-Seek support– You do not have to do this alone. You can seek help from family members or even professionals. You can also join caregivers support group if needed.
These are the things that you can do from your end to offer support to your loved one. You can also read “Contagious Emotions: Staying well when your loved one is depressed”, by Ronald Podell, M.D in order to help better. However, it is important that you do understand you are not a professional to help them cure depression. Hence it is important you know the limitations and be aware of when to bring in a trained personnel. Offering someone care and love when they are at their lowest point is the tremendously kind thing to do.