Depression is an isolating illness that can drive you apart from your loved ones. This is why people with depression need all the love and support they can get. However, it is not always easy to know how to help someone with depression, and some things you do or say in good faith may actually make their situation worse.
But don’t get discouraged. The fact that you’re trying to help means that you care about them and want to do everything you can to help. Here are eight ways to help someone with depression:
Educate yourself about their condition: Learning everything you can about depression will help you to better understand your loved one’s condition and how it affects them. It can also help you better communicate with them about their experiences, feelings, and emotions without being insensitive or judgmental. There are plenty of valuable resources online that can provide insightful information about depression and other mental illnesses.
Be a good listener: One of the best things you can do for someone with depression is to be there and listen to them empathically. Let them express how they are feeling and what they are thinking without interruption or trying to offer solutions. Sometimes people just need a safe space to get things off their chests without being judged.
Offer practical help: Depression can drain your will and motivation and make simple chores or everyday tasks seem insurmountable. If you notice your loved one is struggling to keep up with their daily responsibilities, offer to help out where you can. This will take the pressure off their shoulders and make things feel more manageable.
Be patient: Depression is a long-term illness, and treatment requires time, patience, and open-mindedness. There will be days when everything will seem to be on the right track and other days when things will feel like they are falling apart. Be there for them during the tough times, and don’t forget to applaud their progress.
Include them in social activities: It can be easy to forget about someone with depression when they start to become socially withdrawn. But including them in your plans and inviting them to go out with you can help remind them that they are still valued and loved. Just don’t be offended if they turn down your invitations sometimes, as they may not always feel up to it.
Encourage them to seek professional help: Depression is a debilitating mental illness that requires professional treatment. If your loved one is dealing with depression, encourage them to seek help from a professional. You can even offer to go with them to their first appointment if they feel nervous or scared.
Help them stick to their treatment plan: Like any other task, keeping up with medication and therapy appointments can seem like too much work for someone with depression. You can be supportive by helping your loved one keep track of therapy appointments, driving them to therapy sessions, or simply reminding them to take their medication.
Watch for warning signs: Depression can sometimes lead to more serious symptoms and complications, such as self-harm or thoughts of suicide. If you notice any signs that indicate your loved one is in danger of harming themselves, be ready to intervene in any way necessary.
Helping someone with depression can be challenging and emotionally draining. But that selfless show of love and support can prove to be an important stepping stone on their path to recovery. Just remember to take care of yourself as well, and reach out for help if you start to feel overwhelmed.