Understand You Arent A Therapist
Its important to encourage a depressed friend to seek qualified help. You cant cure your friend by talking things out or giving great advice major depression needs to be addressed by someone with professional training, who can prescribe antidepressants if appropriate. Dont think that you can manage their symptoms on your own, says Dr. Bates. Just be there in a supportive, nonjudgmental way.
What Treatment Should I Be Offered
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence writes guidance on what treatment doctors should offer you. But your doctor does not have to give you these treatments. And the treatments may not be available in your area.
Different treatments may be available in your area. Your doctor might think these suit your symptoms more than the recommended treatments.
NICE recommend that depression is treated in different steps depending on how severe the condition is for you. The steps are as follows.
Step 1: Everyone who may have depression
Your doctor should offer you:
- an assessment of your symptoms,
- support, such as regular appointments in person or by telephone,
- information on how to deal with your symptoms,
- monitoring of your symptoms and follow-up, and
- referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.
Step 2: Mild to moderate depression
Your doctor may offer you:
- low-intensity interventions, such as self-help guided by the doctor or computerised cognitive behavioural therapy ,
- physical activity programmes,
- group cognitive behavioural therapy ,
- medication if you have a history of moderate or severe depression, or you have had symptoms for a long time, and
- referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.
Step 3: Moderate to severe depression, or mild to moderate depression when other treatments havent worked
Your doctor may suggest:
Step 4: Severe and complex depression or if your life is at risk Your doctor may suggest:
Its Always A Serious Matter
Watching some comedy movies or reading a motivational book isnt going to make depression go away. It takes a lot of personal effort to overcome depression, so you should never undermine your friends problem.
Acknowledging your friends depression will be more valuable than you think. Dont make your friend feel like a patient, as depressed people tend to feel ashamed of their condition, so they may close and refuse conversation after all. Keep in mind that depression comes from deep emotional trauma or other traumatic events, and you can help your friend by patiently supporting their efforts to have professional treatment, highlights Eloyse Reese.
Ask your friend if you cant figure out which is the best method to provide support. Some may want to hang out without necessarily talking about their depression. Others will talk about their issues. As long as youre compassionate and non-judgemental, communication could be beneficial for your friend.
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Know When To Pitch In
Because you want to help your loved one with severe depression, you may go out of your way to lighten their daily load of responsibilities. Cleaning, cooking, shopping, and running errands are a few of the ways you can help. However, its essential you know the difference between helping and enabling.
Enabling is often done by the most caring people, like you. You mean well, but by helping your loved one, you encourage their mental health dysfunction to continue. You get to do all the work while they do nothing to improve their situation. Enabling leads to negative consequences for your loved one, you, and your relationship.
Instead, choose to help behaviors when your loved one is making progress in their mental health recovery. For example, if they have a therapy appointment while they are supposed to pick up their child from school, you can offer to pick up their child. This allows them to take part in improving themselves.
Remind Them You’re There For Them
Depression can feel as though no one understands what you are feeling or even cares enough to try to understand, which can be isolating and overwhelming.
Research has shown that people tend to withdraw when they are depressed, so reaching out to a friend in need is an important first step. If your friend isn’t ready to talk, continue to offer your support by spending time with them and try to check in regularly, either in person, on the phone, or by text.
When you reach out to a friend, letting them know that you are going to be there every step of the way can be very reassuring.
You may not quite know what this will look like at first, but know that just reminding your friend that you are someone they can lean on can mean the world.
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Take Care Of Yourself
When you care about someone whos living with depression, its tempting to drop everything to be by their side and support them. Its not wrong to want to help a friend, but its also important to take care of your own needs.
If you put all your energy into supporting your friend, youll have very little left for yourself. And if youre feeling burned out or frustrated, you wont be much help to your friend.
Setting boundaries can help. For example, you might let your friend know youre available to talk after you get home from work, but not before then.
If youre concerned about them feeling like they cant reach you, offer to help them come up with a contingency plan if they need you during your work day. This might involve finding a hotline they can call or coming up with a code word they can text you if theyre in a crisis.
You might offer to stop by every other day or bring a meal twice a week, instead of trying to help every day. Involving other friends can help create a bigger support network.
Spending a lot of time with a loved one who has depression can take an emotional toll. Know your limits around difficult emotions, and make sure you take time to recharge.
If you need to let your friend know you wont be available for a while, you might say something like, I cant talk until X time. Can I check in with you then?
Supporting Someone Through Depression Treatment
Your loved has taken an incredibly brave step by asking for help for their depression. From here, the best thing you can do is be as supportive as possible throughout the treatment process.
Note that if, at any point, you think your loved is at risk of suicide, take immediate action. Call a national helpline, like Samaritans, book an urgent appointment with their GP, or head straight to your nearest A& E department.
- Continue to help out in any way you can. From housework to just being a sounding board, its important that you continue trying to be as helpful as possible
- Suggest activities. There are lots of ways people can cope with depression. One of these getting themselves out there, which can be achieved by things like exercise or a taking up a new hobby. You could suggest that your loved one starts looking into activities that they enjoy, that could potentially be a distraction for them. However, if they dont feel up to it at that time, then dont put any more pressure on them
- Be realistic. Even during treatment, there might be bumps along your loved ones road to recovery. If they do seem to be having small setbacks, remain patient and understanding, and dont let frustration set in
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Remind Them That They Matter
A common feeling among those who are depressed is that their lives don’t matter and no one would even care if they were gone. If you can sincerely tell your friend about all the ways that they matter to you and others, this can help them realize that they have value and worth.
Letting them know that they are an important person in your life can mean a lot when someone is struggling with feelings of depression and worthlessness.
Things To Remember About Depression
Depression isnt anyones fault
Its important to understand that your loved one cant help the way theyre feeling and its not their fault. Treating your loved one with compassion and understanding is incredibly important.
You cant flick a switch and cure depression
Unfortunately, theres no quick fix for depression and your loved one cant simply pull themselves together. It will take small steps for them to recover, and what helps one person will not necessarily help someone else.
Patience is invaluable
When youre suffering from depression, the thought of getting out of bed and going through the daily motions can be exhausting. However, this doesnt mean your loved one lacks the motivation to get better. Allow them to go at their own pace and comfort level, and support them where you can.
Depression is a serious but treatable condition
Your role here isnt to fix your loved ones depression. In most cases, it takes professional treatment from highly qualified people to overcome depression. The best thing you can do is be as supportive, compassionate and patient as possible. If your loved one is open to it, you can suggest ways that can help motivate them when depressed and it could be something you both enjoy doing.
Further reading on depression:
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Where To Get Help For Depression
A complete psychological diagnostic evaluation will help decide what type of depression treatment might be best for the person. If you need to locate a psychologist or psychiatrist, you can contact the Psychological Association or Medical Society in your county or state to receive a referral. You can also get a referral from your family doctor, county mental health association or local psychiatric hospitals.
APA ReferenceTracy, N. . How to Help and Support Someone with Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, July 31 from https://www.healthyplace.com/depression/support/how-to-help-and-support-someone-with-depression
How Can I Take Care Of Myself
Once you begin treatment, you should gradually start to feel better. Go easy on yourself during this time. Try to do things you used to enjoy. Even if you dont feel like doing them, they can improve your mood. Other things that may help:
- Try to get some physical activity. Just 30 minutes a day of walking can boost mood.
- Try to maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time.
- Eat regular, healthy meals.
- Do what you can as you can. Decide what must get done and what can wait.
- Try to connect with other people, and talk with people you trust about how you are feeling.
- Postpone important life decisions until you feel better.
- Avoid using alcohol, nicotine, or drugs, including medications not prescribed for you.
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Ways To Help A Friend With Depression Or Anxiety
If you want to be there for someone whos dealing with depression or anxiety, youre already being a great friend. It can be hard to know exactly how to help someone with depression or anxiety, and what to say to someone who’s having a rough time. Remember that each person is different, and while these tips are a guide, when helping a friend with depression or anxiety, its important to talk with your friend about what they feel they need.
Be Realistic About Your Expectations
Dealing with depression is exhausting, and it can make something even as small as taking a shower seem insurmountable, which means its essential to be realistic about your expectations when it comes to how someone manages their mental health. Doing a load of laundry and putting it away could be a huge achievement for someone struggling with depression, and its important not to negate these triumphs as just being normal things. Even those who are actively dealing with their depression will face setbacks, as depression is the same as any recovery process in that its not linear. You may wonder during these times whether your friend will be OK or what is a normal life difficulty and what requires intervention, but the best thing you can do to support someone with depression is to keep the lines of communication open. This way you are aware of whats going on and the other person has the best chance of feeling comfortable talking to you about it.
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Tips To Help Someone Who Seems Down
- Let them know you care and are there to listen.
- Accept them as they are, without judging them.
- Gently encourage them to help themselves for example, by staying physically active, eating a balanced diet and doing things they enjoy.
- Get information about the services available to them, such as psychological therapy services or depression support groups in their area.
- Stay in touch with them by messaging, texting, phoning or meeting for coffee. People who are depressed can become isolated and may find it difficult to leave their home.
- Try to be patient.
- Take care of yourself.
Minimizing Or Comparing Their Experience
If your friend talks about their depression, you might want to say things like, I understand, or Weve all been there. But if youve never dealt with depression yourself, this can minimize their feelings.
Depression goes beyond simply feeling sad or low. Sadness usually passes fairly quickly, while depression can linger and affect mood, relationships, work, school, and all other aspects of life for months or even years.
Comparing what theyre going through to someone elses troubles or saying things like, But things could be so much worse, generally doesnt help.
Your friends pain is whats real to them right now and validating that pain is what may help them most.
Say something like, I cant imagine how hard that is to deal with. I know I cant make you feel better, but just remember you arent alone.
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Support Them To Seek Help For Depression
All types of depression are treatable, whether your loved one is struggling with clinical depression, seasonal affective disorder or any other type of depression, and this is a key message to try and reinforce to your loved one. Connecting with a mental health professional means that your loved ones condition can be evaluated and some proactive next steps put in place but only if they feel ready.
If theyre nervous about speaking to a professional, offer to go with them to any initial appointments and help them to make a list of their symptoms to talk through.
Encouraging The Person To Get Help
While you cant control someone elses recovery from depression, you can start by encouraging the depressed person to seek help. Getting a depressed person into treatment can be difficult. Depression saps energy and motivation, so even the act of making an appointment or finding a doctor can seem daunting to your loved one. Depression also involves negative ways of thinking. The depressed person may believe that the situation is hopeless and treatment pointless.
Because of these obstacles, getting your loved one to admit to the problemand helping them see that it can be solvedis an essential step in depression recovery.
If your friend or family member resists getting help:
Suggest a general check-up with a physician. Your loved one may be less anxious about seeing a family doctor than a mental health professional. A regular doctors visit is actually a great option, since the doctor can rule out medical causes of depression. If the doctor diagnoses depression, they can refer your loved one to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Sometimes, this professional opinion makes all the difference.
Offer to help the depressed person find a doctor or therapist and go with them on the first visit.Finding the right treatment provider can be difficult, and is often a trial-and-error process. For a depressed person already low on energy, it is a huge help to have assistance making calls and looking into the options.
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One Note On Cheering Someone Up
Humans are naturally empathetic beings, so the desire to cheer up a loved one during a depressive episode is understandable. However, depression is like any other chronic condition: It can be managed and treated, but it cant just disappear overnight. When someone experiences a depressive episode, it may be helpful to be strategic when youre trying to cheer them up.
Important Facts About Depression
Helping someone who is depressed requires understanding a few things about the disease. If you don’t understand depression, your efforts may not be helpful. They may even make the situation worse.
No one can simply snap out of major depression.
Major depression is not always disabling, but it is not something that a depressed person can simply wish away.
Most people who have depression do not cause harm to themselves or to others.
Typically, the internal moral compass and care for others win out over any impulses to do harm. Only about 1 in 5,000 men and 1 in 20,000 women in any given year commit either suicide or homicide. However, it is important to take threats of suicide, or homicide, seriously.
When someone who is depressed doesn’t connect with you, it isn’t necessarily “you.”
Depression is not personal. People who are depressed may lack the energy to think clearly or to exercise self-control. They may say things that upset you when they become angry, and regret them later.
Hiding depression won’t make it go away.
It doesn’t help to enable depression. Giving depressed people excuses for not showing for work, not participating in social activities, or not living up to their daily obligations does not help them get better.
You can’t “fix” someone else’s depression.
Their recovery is ultimately up to them. However, you can be supportive, within boundaries.
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