Supporting Friends And Family With Depression
Depression is a medical condition that requires treatment from a doctor. While family and friends can help by offering support in finding treatment, they cannot treat a persons depression.
As a friend or family member of a person with depression, here are a few things you can do:
- Encourage the person to seek medical treatment and stick with the treatment plan the doctor prescribes.
- Help set up medical appointments or accompany the person to the doctors office or a support group.
- Participate in activities the person likes to do.
- Ask if the person wants to go for a walk or a bike ride. Physical activity can be great for boosting mood.
Taking Care Of Yourself Too
One of the key parts of helping a depressed friend is to be sympathetic but not empathetic. Dr. Saltz says, You want your friend to know that you understand that he feels bad without allowing the depression itself to pull you in.
When supporting a friend with depression, try not to take what they say or do personally. Understand that their actions or reactions to your kindness may be influenced by the depression itself. Dr. Leaf says, Rather than seeing the situation as this person is attacking me and how can they do this after all I have done for them!, realize that the other persons thoughts and actions may be distorted because of what they are going through.
If possible, dont go it alone. Supporting a person with depression can be very draining so its best not to have one sole caregiver. If you feel overwhelmed or that your friend is too reliant on you, resist the urge to abandon them. Instead, enlist the help of their friends and family to create a support system they can reach out to. Also, a dont take it upon yourself to act as their therapist. Friendship is important but it is not a substitute for professional help.
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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What To Say To Someone Whos Depressed
One of the worst things about depression is the loneliness and the sense of the world getting on with things without you. If someone tells you they have depression, know that they are showing you part of the beautiful, messy, unpredictable frailties that come with being human. We all have them. It can be difficult to know what to say to someone who is depressed, but know that its unlikely you can make anything worse.
What Does Chronic Loneliness Do To Your Brain
Research shows that chronic loneliness can have a significant impact on your overall health, including your brain health. Some studies even suggest that there may be a link between loneliness and an increased risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.5
Long term feelings of loneliness and social isolation can also reduce cognitive skills6, such as the ability to concentrate, make decisions, problem-solve, and even change negative self-beliefs. And it can ultimately lead to depression.7
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Write Down Positive Memories
This is one of those pieces of advice you’ve surely been given before, but never actually committed to. Now’s the time to give it a real shot. Just dedicating 15 minutes per day to jotting down special moments you’ve shared with friends and family can be enough to overcome negative feelings, Cacioppo explains. The process will remind you you’re not alone, and the memories are bound to improve your mood.
Smiling at yourself in the mirror is an unusual askCacioppo gets it. So, she recommends closing your eyes and thinking of the last time you made someone smile or laugh and let your body do the rest. Will it feel strange? Yes. But, will it help? Also yes.
Just thinking of a time when you were feeling giddy will automatically bring a smile to your facea move that will set off all those feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain and trick you into feeling happier than you were just a few secs before. Once you’re feeling a little better, hold onto that feeling by leaning into something that makes you feel really good, such as cracking open your favorite book or going for a run.
7. Take note of all the things you’re grateful for.
9. Get a pet, or spend time with someone else’s.
10. Join a club or take a class.
11. Make a schedule for yourself and stick to it.
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4. Try self-affirming messages. Along with gaining greater acceptance of yourself and your real or imagined flaws, turn your thoughts toward the features of yourself that you like. Give yourself a mental pat on the back when you find that you’re not becoming overly self-critical and judging yourself with unrealistic standards.
5. Practice emotional suppression and reappraisal. The emotion-focused coping strategies that dont change the situation, but do change the way you feel about it are ideally suited for learning to manage the feelings you have about the qualities you have that you cant change. From your body type to the shape of your nose, whether youre accident-prone or forgetful, you can learn to draw your attention from away from ruminating about these supposed flaws and think about something else. You might even decide that some of your worst “flaws” actually make you quite lovable.
To sum up, becoming happier with your qualities rather than distressed about them can be an important step in conquering both depressive thoughts and the feeling that youre not interacting with people to the extent that you would prefer. Take it easy on yourself, and your fulfillment will only continue to flourish.
Ypsilanti, A., Lazuras, L., Powell, P., & Overton, P. . Self-disgust as a potential mechanism explaining the association between loneliness and depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 243, 108115. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2018.09.056.
What To Say To Someone Who Is Depressed
We humans are a complex bunch, and even with all the loving intent in the world it can be difficult to know what to say. Here are some places to start.
This isnt an ending. You can beat this.
The hopelessness of depression stands with its arms crossed, blocking the door to anything better. Thats how it feels. You probably wont be believed the first time you say this, but just keep saying it and believing it enough for both of you. Even if the way out feels blocked, youll at least be lighting the path.
This will help more than you realise but back it up with action. Call. Visit. Make contact. The very nature of depression means that the depressed person will be unlikely to reach out to you. Show them you have enough reach in you for both of you. It will make a difference.
Narrow your offer of help.
If you say, let me know what I can do to help, youre likely to get a nothing or just nothing back. Depression makes things seem pointless and overwhelming. Narrowing down your offer gives a starting point. Narrow down the time Ill meet you after your session/ therapy/ doctors appointment if you want, or the task What can I do to help with the kids?Ive made a curry. Theres heaps. Can I bring some over for you. Just throw it in the freezer if you want.
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Remind Yourself It’s Not Just You
“We’re not alone in our loneliness,” Rokach explains.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily lean into the loneliness simply because others are dealing with it, too, Rokach warns. It’s a great opportunity to remember that, just like anyone else, you have the power to get yourself out of this situation.
Recognize You Are Not Alone
If 22% of Americans constantly feel lonely, know that if you’re feeling isolated, you’re sharing the same experience with millions of other people.
” I remind myself just how pervasive loneliness is and I imagine being connected to ‘all of the lonely people out there’. Sometimes I listen to Eleanor Rigby to hammer that point home,” says Megan Bruneau, therapist and executive coach. “Loneliness is a healthy emotion, revealing places we yearn for connection.”
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Feeling Lonely In A Marriage How To Deal With Loneliness In A Relationship
You might expect to find yourself feeling lonely after a breakup, but what about when youre still with someone?
Feeling alone or feeling lonely in a relationship is more common than youd think.
Over time, people can drift apart or take each other for granted, and you might feel like your spouse just doesnt get you anymore.
Here are four tips on how to deal with loneliness in a relationship:
Signs And Symptoms Of Chronic Loneliness
Short-term bouts of loneliness can occur to many people at some point in their lives. These types of feelings are typically brief and not considered chronic. However, when feelings of loneliness and isolation worsen and continue long-term, there may be more serious signs and symptoms to be aware of and steps you can take to help deal with chronic loneliness.
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Find Ways To Connect Even If Your Loneliness Makes That Feel Impossible
One of the biggest hurdles when dealing with loneliness is the belief that you are the only one experiencing it, which can lead to guilt and shame. But that is why it is always a good idea to reach out and try to find points of connections with others, even when you are feeling lonely.
Doing this can feel like the hardest thing in the world when you are in a lonely state. But you might be surprised how receptive your family and friends are if you tell them honestly, Im feeling lonely. Want to go out for coffee? Expressing your truth is one of the best ways to reignite old connections, or connect deeper with the people already in your life.
Encourage Them To Reach Out When They’re Feeling Down
The importance of reaching out when we feel like we need connection can’t be stressed enough. And Dr. Leaf says that even if it’s only online or over video chat, letting your friend know you’re on the other side of the phone can be incredibly helpful. “Although this may feel awkward at first and can be frustrating at times when the other person just wants a human presence, it is still better than feeling alone and isolated and can really help improve their sense of belonging and mental health,” she says.
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What Is Chronic Loneliness
Chronic loneliness occurs when feelings of loneliness and uncomfortable social isolation go on for a long period of time. Its characterized by constant and unrelenting feelings of being alone, separated or divided from others, and an inability to connect on a deeper level. It can also be accompanied by deeply rooted feelings of inadequacy, poor self-esteem, and self-loathing.1
Ongoing loneliness can afflict even the most seemingly outgoing person. Being the “life of the party” doesn’t necessarily exclude someone from being chronically lonely. This type of chronic, or long-term loneliness, can eventually impact all areas of your life.
What Causes Loneliness
Loneliness has many different causes, which vary from person to person. We don’t always understand what it is about an experience that makes us feel lonely.
For some people, certain life events may mean they feel lonely, such as:
- going through a relationship break-up
- retiring and losing the social contact you had at work
- changing jobs and feeling isolated from your co-workers
- starting at university
- moving to a new area or country without family, friends or community networks.
Other people find they feel lonely at certain times of the year, such as around Christmas.
Some research suggests that people who live in certain circumstances, or belong to particular groups, are more vulnerable to loneliness. For example, if you:
- have no friends or family
- are estranged from your family
- are a single parent or care for someone else you may find it hard to maintain a social life
- belong to minority groups and live in an area without others from a similar background
- are excluded from social activities due to mobility problems or a shortage of money
- experience discrimination and stigma because of a disability or long-term health problem, including mental health problems
- experience discrimination and stigma because of your gender, race or sexual orientation
- have experienced sexual or physical abuse you may find it harder to form close relationships with other people.
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Don’t Deny Or Distance
Because of all the shameful and self-critical feelings that accompany loneliness, a common reaction is to kid yourself into thinking you don’t actually need anyone, things are better this way, and you’ll do just fine on your own, Rokach explains. You might actually believe that for a while, too.
Down the line, however, this response will be harmfulto your mental and physical health. People need people, and everyone needs to feel loved. So, as soon as you can put a label to your loneliness, it’s time to try and do something about it.
How Can You Tell If Someone Is Feeling Lonely
It can be really difficult for anyone to admit theyre feeling lonely and it can be even harder to ask for help. Pride and independence are important for a lot of us, but these things can feel even more important as we get older. We all go through ups and downs, which can make it difficult to spot a longer-term problem. But there are some clues that could indicate a person is feeling lonely, these include someone:
- having a significant change in their routine
- neglecting their appearance or personal hygiene
- not eating properly
- putting themselves down
- not being themselves.
You may spot signs that someone is lonely before the person you care about does or before they are able to talk about it.
Or you may find it hard to admit that you think someone you care about is lonely. You might not want to think of them as feeling low or you might feel guilty. But recognising someone is lonely can help you start to help them.
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Then Ask A Question That Helps Invite Reflection
“Its really important for us to realize that loneliness is much like physical hunger in that feeling it isnt bad its how our bodies tell us we have a need,” says Nelson. According to her, our capacity for relationships are incredibly personal, with some people craving more interaction than others, but the last thing we want to do is try to talk the other person out of listening to their body by thinking we need to cheer them up or point out all the friends they have. This would be an example of toxic positivity and is not helpful to someone who is feeling lonely.
Instead, Nelson suggests asking questions that prompt your friend to reflect on their needs. You can try something like, What specifically do you feel most lonely for?” or “What kind of an experience, conversation, or person would feel most meaningful to you right now? and listen thoughtfully to their response.