How Can I Help Someone With Depression
Depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects millions of people, from young to old and from all walks of life. It gets in the way of everyday life, causing tremendous pain, hurting not just those suffering from it but also impacting everyone around them.
If someone you love is depressed, you may be experiencing any number of difficult emotions, including helplessness, frustration, anger, fear, guilt, and sadness. These feelings are all normal. Its not easy dealing with a friend or family members depression. And if you neglect your own health, it can become overwhelming.
That said, your companionship and support can be crucial to your loved ones recovery. You can help them to cope with depression symptoms, overcome negative thoughts, and regain their energy, optimism, and enjoyment of life. Start by learning all you can about depression and how to best talk about it with your friend or family member. But as you reach out, dont forget to look after your own emotional healthyoull need it to provide the full support your loved one needs.
Understanding depression in a friend or family member
Depression is a serious condition. Dont underestimate the seriousness of depression. Depression drains a persons energy, optimism, and motivation. Your depressed loved one cant just snap out of it by sheer force of will.
Ways You Can Help A Friend With Depression
10 Ways You Can Help a Friend with Depression
Depression can affect anyone. Yet, it is still an illness that many people don’t understand. People talk about mental illness much more than they used to. Even so, there is still a stigma attached to mental health. A stigma that prevents many people from being open about depression. If you have a friend with depression, it can be difficult to know what you can do to help them. Here are ten ways that you can help a friend who is suffering from depression.
1. Educate Yourself
The first thing to do if you want to help someone with depression is to learn more about the illness. If you have never suffered from depression, it can be very difficult to empathize with someone who is. There are lots of very good resources online that you can refer to. So, do some research and then you will be much better equipped to offer your friend help and support.
2. Take It Seriously
Depression is not something that someone can snap out of. You can’t fix the problem with one good night out, for example. When you are talking to someone with depression, don’t try to make light of the condition. Depression is a serious illness. You won’t be able to help a depressed person by telling them to cheer up or to pull themselves together and get over it.
3. Become a Good Listener
4. Encourage Them to Get Help
5. Offer Practical Help
6. Keep Them in The Loop
7. Don’t Try to Be an Expert
8. Don’t Belittle the Condition
10. Be Patient
Evaluating Your Thoughts And Feelings
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Depression Is A Real Illness
You are not weak or crazy. Depression is a real illness that researchers believe is caused mainly by imbalances in certain chemicals within your brain called neurotransmitters. Some experts are even starting to frame depression as a systemic disease.
The following neurotransmitters play an important role in regulating your mood as well as being involved in many other functions throughout your body:
- Dopamine: Helps regulate emotion, memory, thinking, motivation, and reward
- Norepinephrine: What makes your heart rate and blood pressure sore during a “fight or flight” response or stressful time
- Serotonin: The “feel-good” chemical that helps regulate your mood and plays a role in your overall sense of well-being
Researchers are continuing to learn more about what causes these imbalances as well as other neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, GABA, and glutamate, which may also play a role in depression.
Continue Supporting Them And Respond To Emergencies
On a bad day, your friend might not want to leave their room. If they say something like Im going to cancel my appointment today, encourage them to follow through with the appointment.
Whether or not your friend has decided to get professional help, its important that they know they can get support from you, or other friends and family.
If you think your friend may be in danger or at risk of hurting themselves or someone else, seek help from a trusted adult or emergency mental health service immediately. Call 000 to reach emergency services and also tell someone you trust.
In more serious cases, its important to let an older/more responsible adult know whats going on. You dont have to be perfect all the time and making mistakes are inevitable and a good thing as we can learn from them. Anzelmo
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What Risks And Complications Can Depression Cause
Having depression can cause other problems. It can affect your mental health as well as your physical health, and it may affect other areas of your life too. For example, depression may cause:
- disturbed sleep,
- difficulties with work and your hobbies,
- difficulties keeping contact with friends and families, or
- suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harming.
Some people might also drink more alcohol to try and relieve depression. However, as we said in the previous section above, this can actually make depression worse.
If you have any of these problems, speak to your GP.
Press Play For Advice On Managing Depression
Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how to find the courage to face depression, featuring Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez.
When sadness turns into depression, there are some telltale signs, including:
- Changes in appetite, weight, and sleep patterns
- Feeling anxious, hopeless, or helpless
- Feeling irritable and restless
- Persistent feelings of sadness or an empty mood
- Physical symptoms that dont subside with treatment
- Loss of interested in actives you once enjoyed
- Low energy or feelings of fatigue
- Trouble with concentration, memory, and decision-making
Unfortunately, you can’t just snap yourself out of depression. If you recognize these signs, seek help from a mental health professional.
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Treatment: Psychotherapy For Depression Symptoms
In essence, psychotherapy helps you get to the bottom of the depression symptoms, understand how depression affects your life, and cultivate healthy habits that will keep your depression at bay.
In general, experts believe therapy is an excellent treatment option for mild forms of depression, and most professionals specialize in depression or have experience working with people who are experiencing depression. When it comes to severe clinical depression, healthcare professionals recommend a psychiatric consultation followed by antidepressant medication to tackle the depression. This balance of treatment medications and therapy can help with the pain of depression while understanding the thoughts and feelings.
Aside from individual therapy, patients with depression can benefit greatly from family and couples therapy. Theres also group therapy for depression which brings together people who suffer from the same condition, creating a community that tests and provides mutual support for depression.
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.
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What To Do If You Think You Have Depression
Depression deserves to be treated with the same attention afforded any other illness, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Likewise, the best way to figure out what is causing symptoms is to talk to a qualified professional, like your doctor. If you feel uncomfortable using the term depression, tell your doctor that you are âfeeling blueâ or âfeeling down,â and describe your personal experience and symptoms. The more specific you can be, the better your doctor can help you. The important thing is to make it a priority during your appointment and be as honest as possible so your doctor can help you.
Itâs not uncommon for a person receiving care to suffer from undiagnosed depression. Everything can feel worse than it is from their perspective adding to any daily caregiving challenges you may be experiencing. If you suspect this is the case in your caregiving situation, look for an opportunity to share your concern with them. If they are reluctant to talk about it with you, encourage a trusted friend to talk with them or consider leaving a message for their doctor regarding your concern prior to their next appointment.
Understanding How Much Depression Impacts Lives
There are varying degrees of depression. Certain people experience depression in lapses, while others are ongoingly depressed. Nevertheless, depression literally has the capability to impact every aspect of an individual’s life. In many cases, depression doesn’t simply wear off or subside. This is why it’s so very problematic when depressed individuals are told to simply shake it off or “get over it.” Depression literally does not work this way.
It goes without saying that depression has a very real impact on people’s mental state. Depression quite literally changes brain chemistry and the manner in which individuals see the world. Someone who is going through depression may feel anxious, habitually empty, and they may also experience thoughts of suicide. It’s not uncommon for people with depression to struggle with even getting out of bed in the morning or doing things which are considered basic by most people. It’s important to remember that just because the mental impacts are not able to be seen with the naked eye , this does not make them any less real.
Reviewing the impacts of depression can be a lot to take in. This type of mental health issue is very scary and nothing to crack jokes about. However, having an awareness of the effects associated with depression allows for a deeper understanding of steps to take if and when you’re going through this struggle yourself.
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Supporting Your Loved Ones Treatment
One of the most important things you can do to help a friend or relative with depression is to give your unconditional love and support throughout the treatment process. This involves being compassionate and patient, which is not always easy when dealing with the negativity, hostility, and moodiness that go hand in hand with depression.
Provide whatever assistance the person needs . Help your loved one make and keep appointments, research treatment options, and stay on schedule with any treatment prescribed.
Have realistic expectations. It can be frustrating to watch a depressed friend or family member struggle, especially if progress is slow or stalled. Having patience is important. Even with optimal treatment, recovery from depression doesnt happen overnight.
Lead by example. Encourage the person to lead a healthier, mood-boosting lifestyle by doing it yourself: maintain a positive outlook, eat better, avoid alcohol and drugs, exercise, and lean on others for support.
Encourage activity. Invite your loved one to join you in uplifting activities, like going to a funny movie or having dinner at a favorite restaurant. Exercise is especially helpful, so try to get your depressed loved one moving. Going on walks together is one of the easiest options. Be gently and lovingly persistentdont get discouraged or stop asking.
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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.
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Take Their Feelings Seriously
If someone is living with a mental health concern, it isnt possible for them just to snap out of it, cheer up or forget about it. Acknowledge that what’s happening must be difficult to handle don’t tell them that their feelings are weird or unfounded.
Try not to approach your friend like theyre a patient or someone who needs to be fixed…this might make them feel embarrassed and belittled, and can make them close themselves off to you. Anzelmo
If youre not sure how to help someone with depression or anxiety, ask them. You could also offer them some options and let them choose what suits them best. For example, you could offer to listen and let them express their thoughts, or just to hang out, without serious conversation.
Try to be caring, compassionate and curious, and let them know that they matter to you and you are taking them seriously.
Taking Care Of Yourself
Theres a natural impulse to want to fix the problems of people we care about, but you cant control someone elses depression. You can, however, control how well you take care of yourself. Its just as important for you to stay healthy as it is for the depressed person to get treatment, so make your own well-being a priority.
Remember the advice of airline flight attendants: put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. In other words, make sure your own health and happiness are solid before you try to help someone who is depressed. You wont do your friend or family member any good if you collapse under the pressure of trying to help. When your own needs are taken care of, youll have the energy you need to lend a helping hand.
Speak up for yourself. You may be hesitant to speak out when the depressed person in your life upsets you or lets you down. However, honest communication will actually help the relationship in the long run. If youre suffering in silence and letting resentment build, your loved one will pick up on these negative emotions and feel even worse. Gently talk about how youre feeling before pent-up emotions make it too hard to communicate with sensitivity.
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How To Talk To Someone About Depression
Sometimes it is hard to know what to say when speaking to someone about depression. You might fear that if you bring up your worries the person will get angry, feel insulted, or ignore your concerns. You may be unsure what questions to ask or how to be supportive.
If you dont know where to start, the following suggestions may help. But remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. You dont have to try to fix your friend or family member you just have to be a good listener. Often, the simple act of talking face to face can be an enormous help to someone suffering from depression. Encourage the depressed person to talk about their feelings, and be willing to listen without judgment.
Dont expect a single conversation to be the end of it. Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again. Be gentle, yet persistent.
Causes And Risk Factors
While some illnesses have a specific medical cause, making treatment straightforward, depression is far more complicated. Certain medications, such as barbiturates, corticosteroids, benzodiazepines, opioid painkillers, and specific blood pressure medicine can trigger symptoms in some peopleas can hypothyroidism . But most commonly, depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors that can vary wildly from one person to another.
Despite what you may have seen in TV ads, read in newspaper articles, or maybe even heard from a doctor, depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, having too much or too little of any brain chemical that can be simply cured with medication. Biological factors can certainly play a role in depression, including inflammation, hormonal changes, immune system suppression, abnormal activity in certain parts of the brain, nutritional deficiencies, and shrinking brain cells. But psychological and social factorssuch as past trauma, substance abuse, loneliness, low self-esteem, and lifestyle choicescan also play an enormous part.
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