How to Help a Loved One Who is Fighting Depression
Depression is a mental illness that affects millions of people worldwide. As a friend, family member, or partner of someone dealing with depression, being supportive and understanding is paramount. However, because depression may vary from person to person, finding ways to help your loved one may be difficult. If you’re struggling to best support someone who is fighting depression, this guide may be an excellent resource.
Identifying the Signs of Depression
Many of those dealing with depression choose to hide their symptoms for fear of being judged or misunderstood. For this reason, it’s crucial to be observant and look for changes in your loved one’s behavior. On the other hand, it is possible that your loved one is struggling with depression and isn’t aware of it.
While depression may be publically asymptomatic in some people, others may exhibit the following signs:
Fatigue or loss of energy
A change in appetite
A change in sleep patterns
Irritability or restlessness
Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed
Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
Aches, pains, or digestive problems with no apparent physical cause
Thoughts of death or suicide
If your loved one has been persistently exhibiting any of the above signs for at least two weeks, it may be indicative of depression. While you may be inclined to confront your loved ones about their depression, it’s important not to pry or be too forceful. Instead, try to express your concerns in a supportive and non-judgmental way.
6 Ways to Help Your Loved One with Depression
Helping someone with depression requires time, effort, and patience. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so it may take some trial and error to find what works best. You may find that some methods are more effective than others, but it’s essential to remain flexible and adaptable. By starting with the following six tips, you may provide valuable support to your loved one who is dealing with depression.
1. Learn About Depression
The first step in helping your loved one fight depression is to educate yourself about the condition. Depression is a complex mental illness, and it’s imperative to understand the symptoms, causes, and treatment options. This will help you be more supportive and may prevent you from inadvertently saying or doing something that could worsen the situation.
Doing your own research, talking to a mental health professional, or attending a support group are all excellent ways to learn more about depression. Since this process may take some time, it’s important to be patient and understanding with yourself. You don’t have to become an expert overnight, but simply increasing your knowledge will help you be a better support system.
2. Always Be Supportive
Those fighting depression are often only as strong as their support system. As someone close to your loved one, your words and actions may play a significant role in their recovery. Being supportive, understanding, and patient is essential as they work through this difficult time.
There are many ways to show your loved one support, but some simple things you can do include:
Listening without judgment
Encouraging positive self-talk
Helping your loved one stick to their treatment plan
Challenging negative thoughts and beliefs
Encouraging them to express their feelings
Helping them stay connected to loved ones and their community
Providing practical assistance, such as help with childcare or transportation
In addition to being supportive, you also need to practice self-care. Helping someone cope with depression may feel like a full-time job, so it’s crucial to make time for your needs. If you’re overwhelmed, burned out, or feel like you’re not making progress, reach out to a mental health professional for help. They will be an invaluable resource and can offer guidance on how to best support yourself.
3. Encourage Them to Get Help
Fighting depression alone may be difficult, and it’s vital to encourage your loved one to seek professional help. If they’re dealing with mild depression, therapy may be an effective treatment option. However, those with severe depression may need medication to manage symptoms.
Sometimes, it may be necessary to seek professional help without your loved one’s consent. For example, if you’re afraid they’re in danger of harming themselves or someone else, you need to take action. In these cases, it’s best to reach out to a mental health professional or emergency services for help.
Keep the Suicide Prevention Hotline number memorized and accessible. The number 988 is now active across the United States as a mental health crisis resource.
4. Encourage a Stress-Free Environment
A stressful home environment may worsen the symptoms of depression and make it difficult to recover. Creating a peaceful and supportive environment is integral to helping your loved one cope. Having a safe, clutter-free space may reduce stress and promote healing.
Keeping your loved ones occupied may help them stay focused on positive activities and prevent them from dwelling on negative thoughts. It’s also important to avoid triggering their symptoms. If you know specific topics or activities will upset them, try to avoid them. You should refrain from placing unrealistic demands on them or pressuring them to do things. Remember, they’re dealing with a lot and need time to heal.
5. Make Time for Fun and Relaxation
Depression may make life feel bleak and joyless. To help your loved one find moments of happiness, make time for fun and relaxation. This could involve anything from going for walks in nature to watching their favorite movie. Doing activities they enjoy may reduce stress, lift their mood, and promote healing.
Staying inside all day may worsen depression, so getting outside and enjoying the world is critical. If your loved one is dealing with fatigue or low energy levels, try to do low-key activities that don’t require much effort. It’s also necessary to be flexible and adjust your plans as needed. If they’re not feeling up to going out, don’t force them. Instead, try doing something at home, such as playing a board game or cooking their favorite meal.
6. Locate Community Resources
Depression may be isolating, but many community resources are available to help those dealing with the condition. There are support groups, therapy services, and hotlines available to provide assistance. Many online resources can be accessed from the comfort of your home.
When helping someone who is dealing with depression, you need to be familiar with the resources available in your community. This way, you can offer guidance and support when they need it the most. If you’re unsure where to start, you can talk to their doctor or a mental health professional for more information.
Get the Treatment Your Loved One Needs at Mile High Psychiatry
Supporting someone who is fighting depression may require more than just emotional support. Medication and professional treatment may sometimes be necessary to help them recover. At Mile High Psychiatry, you’ll find the care, treatment, and resources your loved one needs to start feeling better. Our team of mental health providers is here to provide support and guidance every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment.