How to Help a Loved One With Depression
Witnessing a loved one’s battle with depression can be heartbreaking. You may feel powerless to help them rise above their mental health challenges and reclaim their life from this disorder. If you’re concerned that depression is robbing someone you care about of joy, here are five proactive tips for reaching them.
1. Be Patient and Supportive
Depression comes with many ups and downs. Your depressed loved one may go through periods where they barely have enough energy to get out of bed. If this happens, don’t judge them or give them unconstructive advice to “snap out of it.” Instead, gently let them know you’re always there if they need to talk to someone. Offer to help them with household chores or cook nutritious meals for them.
2. Educate Yourself About Depression Symptoms
Depression may manifest differently from one person to the next, which is why it can be helpful to know what warning signs to look for. Note any marked changes in their behavior, like sleeping too much or too little; a lack of interest in previously favorite activities; or a loss of energy and enthusiasm. Does your loved one seem overly grouchy and irritable? Are they having trouble maintaining a positive outlook on life? Do they often harshly criticize themselves? All these could be red flags of depression.
3. Help Them Stay Active
Aside from professional counseling, regular physical activity is one of the best ways to combat depression. Trying to convince someone living with depression to be active may feel like an insurmountable obstacle, but even something as small as persuading them to get dressed and sit outside with you for a few minutes can help immensely. Don’t get discouraged if your loved one repeatedly turns down your suggestions. Understand their unwillingness to participate is one of their depression symptoms, and don’t give up on trying to reach them.
4. Comment on Improvements
If your loved one has been following a treatment regimen, they may feel as if they’re not improving as quickly as they’d like. As part of the support you’re already offering, be sure to compliment them on how much progress they’ve made. Point out that they’ve been diligent about exercising, or that they’re smiling and engaging in conversations more often.
5. Encourage Them to Seek Help
People with depression may assume they’ll be able to overcome it through sheer force of will, but severe depression requires professional treatment. With the correct approach, someone you care about can learn to manage their symptoms and lead a happier, more fulfilling lifestyle. Demonstrate your willingness to help by researching treatment options, offering to drive your loved one to therapy appointments or helping them come up with a list of questions to ask in a consultation with a mental health care provider.
Your Caring, Experienced Depression Professionals
At Serene Behavioral Health, we know that life’s challenges can sometimes seem impossible to solve on your own. We’re here for you with four treatment levels that meet you wherever you are in your wellness journey. To learn more about customized care for depression, please request help today.