Coping with depression is difficult for the person who is depressed as well as their family and friends.
Role of Caregiver
The support and involvement of family and friends can be crucial in helping someone who is depressed. It is especially helpful if family and friends encourage the patient to stick with treatment and practice the coping techniques and problem-solving skills he or she is learning during psychotherapy.
How Can I Help?
- Make sure that your loved one is evaluated and treated by a trained mental health professional. This is essential to properly diagnose depression and find the right kind of treatment.
- Educate yourself, your family, and friends about mental health problems and depression in particular. This will help you understand what your loved one is experiencing.
- Someone with depression needs constant support. This can be draining, especially if it lasts for long periods of time. It is, however, one of the most important parts of successful treatment. People with depression can feel alone and isolated -- giving consistent support and understanding are critical.
- Help the person with depression to stick to his or her treatment plan. This means making sure that medicines are available if prescribed, attending therapy sessions with the person if needed, helping make recommended lifestyle changes, and encouraging the person to follow up with the proper health care provider, especially if the treatment needs to be adjusted.
Tips for the Caregiver
Living with a person who has depression can be very difficult and stressful on family members and friends. Here are some suggestions for living with a person who has depression that may make things easier for you and more beneficial for the depressed person:
- Recognize that depression is often expressed as hostility, rejection, and irritability.
- Adopt an interaction style that puts the depressed person in charge. For example, instead of suggesting, "Let's go to the movies tonight," try this: "I'd like to see a movie tonight. Which one of these do you want to see with me?"
- Encourage the depressed person to seek professional help. Accompany and support your loved one, but make it clear that it is his or her responsibility to get better.
- Remember that treatment is very effective and your loved one will improve with treatment within a few months.
- Support opportunities for the depressed person to be rewarded, such as visiting friends or going out for activities. Don't force these, though.
- Make sure you notice and praise any significant improvement. Be genuine.
- Leave time for yourself and your own needs. Take breaks from the depressed person from time to time. It will help both of you.
- Consider family or marital therapy: these forms of therapy may be beneficial in bringing together all those affected by depression and helping them learn effective ways to cope together.
- Consider turning to support groups, either for the depressed person, or for you as his or her family member.
WebMD Medical Reference
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Family Caregiver Alliance.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging.
Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on May 14, 2012
© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Top Caregiving Related Articles
Brain CancerCancers that form from brain tissue are called primary brain tumors. Brain tumors may be malignant (brain cancer) or benign. Certain risk factors, such as working in an oil refinery, as a chemist, or embalmer, increase the likelihood of developing brain cancer. Symptoms include headaches, weakness, seizures, difficulty walking, blurry vision, nausea,vomiting, and changes in speech, memory, or personality. Treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.
Brain Tumor: Warning Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatments, and CureA brain tumor can be either non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant), primary, or secondary. Common symptoms of a primary brain tumor are headaches, seizures, memory problems, personality changes, and nausea and vomiting. Causes and risk factors include age, gender, family history, and exposure to chemicals. Treatment is depends upon the tumor type, grade, and location.
Breast Cancer SlidesLearn about breast cancer causes, symptoms, tests, recovery, and prevention. Discover the types of treatments such as surgery and drug therapies as well as the survival rate for breast cancer.
CancerCancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Cervical Cancer (Cancer of the Cervix)Cervical cancer is cancer of the entrance to the womb (uterus) caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Regular pelvic exams, Pap testing and screening can detect precancerous changes in the cervix. Cervical cancer can be prevented by a vaccine. The most common signs and symptoms are an increase in vaginal discharge, painful sex, and postmenopausal bleeding. The prognosis and survival rate depends upon the stage at which the cancer was diagnosed.
Colon CancerColon cancer (bowel cancer) is a malignancy that arises from the inner lining of the colon. Most, if not all, of these cancers develop from colonic polyps. Removal of these precancerous polyps can prevent colon cancer.
DementiaDementia is defined as a significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning. There are several different types of dementia, including cortical, subcortical, progressive, primary, and secondary dementias. Other conditions and medication reactions can also cause dementia. Dementia is diagnosed based on a certain set of criteria. Treatment for dementia is generally focused on the symptoms of the disease.
Dementia SlideshowWhat is dementia? Learn about dementia disorders such as Lewy Body Dementia, Alzheimer's disease (AD), Vascular (multi-infarct) dementia (MID), and more. Discover dementia stages, signs of dementia, causes, diagnosis, treatments, and medications.
Depression SlideshowWhat is depression? Get information on symptoms, signs, tests, and treatments for many types of depression including major depression, chronic depression, teen depression, and postpartum depression.
Non-Hodgkin's LymphomaNon-Hodgkin's lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system, a vital part of the body's immune system. Symptoms and signs include swollen lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, coughing, weakness, chest pain, unexplained weight loss, and abdominal pain. Treatment depends on which type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma one has, the stage of the cancer, one's age, how fast the cancer is growing, and whether one has other health problems.
Ovarian Cancer SlidesLearn about ovarian cancer symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments. Follow the progression of ovarian cancer stages from stage 1 to stage 4 ovarian cancer. What is the survival rate for ovarian cancer patients? Read more…
Parkinson's DiseaseParkinson's disease is a slowly progressive neurological disease characterized by a fixed inexpressive face, a tremor at rest, slowing of voluntary movements, a gait with short accelerating steps, peculiar posture and muscle weakness, caused by degeneration of an area of the brain called the basal ganglia, and by low production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Most patients are over 50, but at least 10 percent are under 40.
Skin CancerSkin cancers occur when skin cells undergo malignant transformations and grow into tumors. The most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are highly curable when they are diagnosed and treated early. Sun exposure, tanning beds, depressed immune system, radiation exposure, and certain viral infections are risk factors for skin cancer. Skin cancers are treated with surgery or radiation. The prognosis of nonmelanoma skin cancers is generally very good.
Uterine CancerThough uterine cancer's cause is unknown, there are many factors that will put a woman at risk, including being over age 50, having endometrial hyperplasia, using hormone replacement therapy, obesity, using tamoxifen, being Caucasian, and/or having colorectal cancer. Symptoms and signs of cancer of the uterus (endometrial cancer) include abnormal vaginal bleeding, painful urination, painful intercourse, and pelvic pain. Treatment depends on staging and may include radiation therapy or hormone therapy.