We all go through various ups and downs in our lifetime. While people may have a common share of sorrows and defeats, their reactions and experiences may differ greatly. It is natural to be sad or experience grief.
Unlike these short-lived periods of sadness, depression may take a huge toll on a person’s overall health. This condition needs medical attention along with the support of loved ones. Thus, one must know what helps and what doesn’t when it comes to helping a person with depression.
- Allow them to vent. A person dealing with depression may greatly benefit by expressing what makes their heart heavy. Be a patient listener and encourage them to express themselves.
- Express your concern. Let them know that you care for them through your words (such as “I am here for you” or “We will face this together”) and actions (such as bringing them their favorite flower or treating them with their favorite meal).
- Do not be judgmental. When you decide to help someone with depression, do not judge or mock their feelings or reactions to situations.
- Be patient. There is no “quick fix” for depression. While you may be making great efforts to help the person, remember that it takes time to heal. Avoid getting impatient or angry if they do not seem to be improving. Remember, the person cannot just “snap out of depression” in a day.
- Do not make depression a taboo. Discuss their condition freely with them. Make the person understand that depression is nothing to be ashamed of. Many people go through it at some point in time.
- Try not to be preachy. Depression has got nothing to do with a lack of wisdom or being aware of what is right or wrong. A gentle word of advice is okay but sounding preachy may not be well accepted by anyone who is depressed.
- Be persistent. Actions, no matter how small they are, create an impact only when they are continuous or persistent. Having a hearty laugh with the person one time does not mean your job is done. If you really want to help, try to stay connected and be open to communication.
- Don’t say that “it is all in your mind.” Depression is a reality and not a mentally made-up experience. You can only help the person when you accept that their trouble is real.
- Do not force your viewpoint. You will surely get more distant from the affected person if you try to make them see things through your perspective.
- Inspire them toward self-care. Take your loved one for a walk, exercise or a grooming session. Help them eat healthily. Besides therapy, self-improvement practices help greatly in the healing process. Take them out for a day of self-indulgence, such as for spa or hair care.
- Be aware of any self-harm clues. A depressed person may tend to harm themselves or even commit suicide. Pay attention if the person gives out such clues. They may give hints, such as saying that they are tired of life or nothing will go wrong in the world if they aren’t there. Professional attention should not be delayed in such a situation.
- Know that you cannot do it all alone. Helping is a great idea and so is knowing one’s limits. Depression needs proper management with the help of a qualified health professional. Do not shoulder the responsibility to pull your loved one out of it all by yourself. Encourage them to get professional help. This will also ensure your well-being by lifting some of the emotional weight off of you.
What are the signs that a loved one is depressed?
Depression also called a major depressive disorder, is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects the way a person feels, thinks and acts.
If a loved one is depressed, they may exhibit the following signs:
- A lack of interest in things they previously enjoyed doing
- A lack of self-care, such as ignoring hygiene or self-grooming
- Avoidance of social interactions
- A disturbed sleeping pattern
- Changes in the manner or pattern of communication, such as trouble sharing thoughts and feelings the way they shared before
- Increase in purposeless activities, such as an inability to sit still, hand wringing or moving around for no reason
- Slowed speech and movement as if they are lost in their thoughts
- Talking about a lack of motivation or feelings of persistent sadness or worthlessness
Is depression treatable?
Yes, absolutely! Depression is one of the most treatable mental disorders. About 80 to 90 percent of the people with depression eventually respond well to treatment. Proper treatment helps control the disturbing symptoms and prevent further episodes of depression.
Sometimes, depression may be caused by an underlying health condition. So, the doctor may try to treat that condition, such as thyroid diseases or vitamin deficiencies, which may be causing the symptoms. Most patients with depression can be treated with medications and psychotherapy under the supervision of a qualified psychiatrist.
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