How to Help a Loved One With Depression
During this holiday season, it’s important to remember that some people are especially struggling. Depression rates skyrocket, and 1 in 10 Americans is battling to overcome this mental illness. Watching someone that you love deal with depression is never easy. Through little to no fault of their own, an individual who suffers from depression can watch their day sink down a drain and find it incredibly difficult to get motivated to do even the simplest things. When someone that you care about faces these struggles, it definitely has an effect on both of your lives, but there isn’t any reason to fret or panic. Here are some things you should remember about helping a loved one fight depression…
Do your research
First of all, you are already doing one thing right simply by reading this article (or any other article about depression and its effects). The number one thing that you need to do if you really want to help a loved one with depression is educate yourself on what depression actually is and how it works. This helps with the understanding that you shouldn’t take a person’s feelings personally, when they are depressed, but also that you shouldn’t disregard their emotions, either. Knowledge is the best tool, when it comes to dealing with the effects of depression.
Listen without judgement
Don’t shrug off what your loved one says about a particular situation or how they are feeling, simply because they are dealing with the effects of depression. Just because their feelings are being impacted by depression, it doesn’t mean that their feelings aren’t still valid. This step is especially important when trying to help a younger person, such as a teenager, process through emotions when they are feeling depressed. When you approach conversations about depression with a veil of judgement, then you are working to alienate your loved one from sharing their thoughts and feelings, which can worsen the effects of depression.
Don’t expect happiness
It is unreasonable to expect an individual to be happy all of the time, regardless of whether they have depression or not. However, when they have depression, then this is doubly true. Just because a person isn’t swelling with happiness at every moment, it doesn’t mean that you should take this personally. Oftentimes, dealing with depression means letting people sift through some negative emotions for a while. Don’t be frustrated by this, but instead be patient and give them the time they need to accomplish this.
Don’t support bad habits
It’s important to recognize actions and behaviors that make a person’s depression even worse. Oftentimes, a person with depression will forego healthy habits such as eating well or taking care of their personal hygiene. These actions cause that person to slip even further into depression and show more symptoms. One of the worst things you can do is encourage any of these habits that are worsening an individual’s depression. This type of relationship is called codependency, and it can become toxic if it is left unaddressed.
Be encouraging of progress
Don’t expect that your loved one needs to be coddled all of the time because they have depression. That is just exhausting for both people. However, you should be encouraging when they show signs of real progress in working through the effects of depression. When they begin to develop healthy habits that enable them to work through a depressive episode, take note of it and tell them that you appreciate them taking those steps. They will definitely appreciate that you’ve taken the time to notice, and it builds a rapport between you and them that makes it easier to listen to feedback in the future.
Encourage them to talk to a professional
At the end of the day, if someone is ever suffering from severe side effects of depression, it is always worth the time to actually go and talk to a professional who can help them work through these difficult emotions. As much as you might think you can tackle these issues all on your own, there are people who have studied long and hard, and have accumulated years of experience in helping people deal with the effects of depression. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is convince your loved one that it is worth it to simply test out professional help.
by Alek Sabin
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