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Ways To Help a Loved One With Depression
It can be hard to see someone you love struggle with depression. Your loved one may have lost interest in life, or they may become irritable at the drop of a hat. Maybe they're going through hard times, or they have clinical depression. Either way, it's a health condition with serious symptoms and repercussions. The good news is that depression is treatable. As a friend or relative of someone going through it, there are ways you can help them out and nudge them in the right direction.
While it's always up to the person with depression to seek help, you can help them realize they have a problem. Here are several ways to help a loved one with depression.
Talk to Them
The first step is to bring up your concerns with them politely. Remember, you don't want to judge them. You only want to help them find relief. That's why you should strive to listen more than anything. Once you've brought up the subject of depression, let them talk. That will give you a chance to finally peer into their mind and see how they're feeling,
While it may seem tempting to remind them of how good they have it, it's best to avoid that approach entirely. If your loved one feels like they should ignore it, they may avoid seeking treatment. Instead, treat their feelings very seriously, and listen to what they have to say.
As much as possible, avoid trying to present solutions or to "fix" your loved one. It's often much more helpful for folks to feel heard, be validated, and know that they matter to you. Treating them like a problem to be solved can actually make their feelings of depression be compounded with guilt.
Encourage Them To Seek Treatment
It can be difficult for those with depression to seek help for it. They may be ashamed of their depression, and that they're not worthy of going to a therapist. As part of their support system, one of the best things you can do is encourage them to find help.
Remind them that there's no shame in being depressed. You can even talk about times when you went to a therapist or, if applicable, when you experienced depression yourself.
Do all you can to let them know there's no shame in talking to a therapist or taking medication. You can't force them to go, but you can help minimize the stigma.
Monitor Their Treatment
Once your loved one seeks treatment, there are ways you can check to see if it's working. Of course, you want to be entirely discrete about this. It isn't very comfortable to ask others about their therapy sessions, so look for some nonverbal signs instead.
Here are some signs that the treatment is having a positive effect:
- They appear calmer in public (no nervous fidgeting or breathing heavily)
- You notice them at social events more often
- They improve their diet and sleeping habits
These are all signs that the treatment is working and they're in recovery.
If you know someone going through a bout of depression, it may affect you, too. It's challenging when your spouse or close friend has depression. They may stop communicating or shut down entirely. Remember, the best thing you can do is talk to them and support their recovery.