Posted by Be You Counseling on October 8, 2019
Depression is the most common mental health issue in the world. But because it affects everyone differently, it can sometimes be difficult to fully know how you can help or support a loved one who is dealing with it.
You can’t just tell someone with depression to “get over it.” It’s not like a superficial physical wound that will heal on its own over time.
Instead, depression often needs to be managed with the help of a professional. Sometimes, depending on the severity of the symptoms and the person’s capacity to function in the world they might even need medication for a short period of time.
But having support from friends and family is often a key component for someone suffering from depression to get the help they need and learn to manage their symptoms.
So, how can you support your loved one in this struggle?
1. Learn More About Depression
One of the best things you can do to help someone with depression is to educate yourself. The more you know about how depression affects people, the better you’ll be able to handle it when someone you love is having a hard time. Learn more about depression.
As mentioned before, everyone experiences this condition differently. For example, some people might lose their appetite entirely while others will turn to food for comfort. Some might have trouble sleeping while others seem to sleep all the time.
Learning about common symptoms and understanding that you can’t “fix” someone’s depression will set a solid foundation of support. You can be a listening ear and the person your loved one can turn to when they’re really struggling.
2. Say the Right Things
There is no “perfect” statement that will automatically make someone’s depression better. But there are things you can say that can help. At the same time, there are also things you should absolutely avoid saying.
Assuring you loved one that you’re there to support them will be a big help. Tell them how important they are to you. And ask them what you can do to help.
Your loved one might sound like a broken record when they tell you what they are experiencing. It may be the same struggle over and over again, but the feelings are real and the thoughts are continuous.
They are just as frustrated as you, but by listening to them you are assuring them that they are not alone with their feelings. Giving them space to talk without judgment or a desire to fix “it” is all that is needed.
What should you avoid saying?
Don’t try to tell your loved one that they’ll be able to get over it or that everyone goes through hard times. Plus, you shouldn’t make them feel as if something is wrong with them or tell them to “snap out of it.”
The fact is, you’ll never be able to fully know what’s going on inside their mind, and you don’t have to. Even if you’ve dealt with depression before, no two cases are the same. So, be supportive and encouraging, and be patient with your loved one as they work through their struggles.
3. Encourage Them to Get Help
One of the best things you can do to show your support is to encourage your loved one to get help. When depression becomes severe, it can lead to thoughts of self-harm or even suicide. No one wants to see someone they love struggling with those ideas.
Make sure you approach your loved one the right way. Offer to help them find a professional counselor or therapist to talk to. If they refuse to speak to a counselor/therapist, offer to go with them for the first couple of visits until they feel comfortable.
If your loved one does decide to get treatment, you can continue to be supportive throughout the process. Be a positive influence around them, encourage them to take part in activities that are uplifting, and make sure they know you’re with them to help however they might need it.
It’s important to set realistic expectations for the person you love, and for yourself. The symptoms of depression don’t go away overnight. Even if someone does get a handle on their symptoms and is able to manage them, it doesn’t mean their depression is totally gone.
When you’re supportive throughout the process—no matter how long it takes—it can help your loved one to respond better to treatment.
If someone you know is struggling with depression, or if you need support with living with someone with depression please contact me to schedule a free consultation. I would like to help. You can also visit my Depression Counseling Page to learn more.
Together we can work on more ideas you can use to help the person you care about to deal with their depression and to get them the treatment they need. We can also work together to process the thoughts and feelings that might be emerging for you.