Ways To Respond To Someone Who Is Depressed
One good thing that came out of Robin Williams death is that we are once again talking about depression. Depression can be a silent killer and still has a stigma despite the numbers of people who struggle with it in any give year. We dont like to talk about it, mostly because we dont know what to say or worry we might say the wrong thing.
So we avoid or stay silent. Worse, we offer platitudes that make the depressed person feel even worse.
No one likes to hear, Snap out of it, Think of all the good things in your life, or the classic, Time heals all wounds. Those phrases accentuate powerlessness, guilt and hopelessness because at the moment, none of it feels true.
So how do you respond when someone tells you he/she isnt having a good day or is depressed?
1. Try to talk the person out of being depressed. This is like trying to talk someone out of having high blood pressure.
2. Minimize their pain.
3. Tell them you know just how they feel. You really dont.
1. Comfort with a statement of empathy, It must be difficult, or I see you are really struggling.
2. Encourage the person to get through the moment, not the entire day.
3. Listen a lot. Be in the moment with the person.
4. Stay connected with the person via text or short messages. A brief, Praying for you is good.
5. Offer help if the person seems receptivedepression is treatable.
6. Be available when the person is ready to talk. Isolation plays on the mind in negative ways.
Difficulty Experiencing Joy Or Connection
When were depressed, it can take all of the enjoyment out of the things we love and make it more difficult for us to connect to those closest to us. We may begin to lose interest in hobbies, friendships, schoolwork, social activities, sex or life in general. When this happens, we may find ourselves feeling isolated from friends, family members or others who care about us.
How And When To Talk
No single method of communication works for everyone. Consider how you usually talk to the person. Which method offers the most intimacy and fosters the deepest dialogue?
In a 2017 Kaiser Permanente poll, 86% of respondents said that face-to-face discussions of depression are the best option. However, some people may feel more comfortable texting.
There are some instances in which it is not helpful or advisable to talk about mental health issues. Some tips include:
- Do not bring up depression during a fight or a time of high stress.
- Do not use depression as a shaming tactic.
- Wait for a time when the person is reasonably calm.
- Do not talk to someone when they are distracted or tired.
- Avoid blindsiding the other person, such as by bringing depression up for the first time in a fight.
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Persistent Irritability Or Mood Swings
Depression can cause us to experience outbursts and mood swings. One minute were angry, the next were crying uncontrollably or we shut down and go numb. Changes in our mood can switch in a moments notice. Sometimes these changes can be triggered by small or insignificant challenges, while other times they can come about unprovoked. If you notice a pattern of irritability or mood swings that last more than a few days, it may be linked to depression.
What Not To Say: You Have Such A Great Life Why Arent You Happy
Let me first explain that depression is never as simple as feeling the opposite of happiness. Depression is feeling numb and living in a void that you feel youll never escape from. What you do or dont have in life doesnt wave a magic wand over your mental health and make it better. In fact, material objects have zero impact on how you feel when living with depression. You could have all the money in the world, a large group of friends and the perfect job, but you can still feel alone and overwhelmed. Insinuating that someone is ungrateful for the life they have when suffering from something they have no control over is selfish. This may cause your friend or loved one to retreat, and stop sharing with you how they feel.
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What To Say Instead: What Youre Going Through Is Real And You Shouldnt Feel Bad About It
Whether or not youve dealt with depression first hand, you can still be a good friend to someone with depression without having suffered with it yourself. Acknowledging that your friend or loved one is suffering and yet reinforcing that they shouldnt feel bad for going through a bad time will help them to feel supported, and not judged.
What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
Also visit the online treatment locator.
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Difficulty Getting Out Of Bed
Its normal to enjoy sleeping in or spending time in bed. However, if it has become difficult to find the motivation to get out of bed or get ready in the morning, this could be a sign of depression. Depression can make us feel fatigued and physically drained to the point where even small tasks, like getting up in the morning, can feel exhausting or difficult to do.
How To Tell Someone You Have Depression
Talking about your depression can be difficult. Unfortunately, many people have no idea what depression is or dont know much about mental illness in general. Up until recently, mental health wasnt a common topic of choice in public settings. However, thanks to the many celebrities with mental illness who have shared their experiences and other forms of mental health awareness, the time has arrived to open up about your struggles. Depression can be a scary and consuming condition if it isnt addressed. It can be difficult to move forward and get mental health treatment without the support of loved ones. With that being said, sharing your struggles is worth the risk. Below are some tips on how to tell someone youre depressed that may make the conversation easier for you.
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Depression In Women: 5 Things You Should Know
Being sad is a normal reaction to difficult times in life. But usually, the sadness goes away with a little time. Depression is differentit is a mood disorder that may cause severe symptoms that can affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities such as sleeping, eating, or working. Depression is more common among women than men, likely due to certain biological, hormonal, and social factors that are unique to women.
This brochure contains an overview of five things that everyone should know about depression in women.
Researchers At The National Institute Of Mental Health And Across The Country Are Dedicated To Womens Mental Health Research
Researchers continue to study depression to improve the way this medical condition is diagnosed and treated. For example, NIMH researchers are currently working to understand how and why changes in reproductive hormones trigger mood disorders, including postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and perimenopausal depression.
NIMH scientists are conducting a large number of research studies with patients and healthy volunteers to better understand why some women are at higher risk than others, and how they can translate these findings into new treatments or new uses of existing treatments.
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Don’t Tell Them To Try Harder
Avoid making comments like:
- “Snap out of it!”
- “Just try harder!”
Having someone tell you to try harder when you are already giving it your best effort can be demoralizing and may make a person with depression feel their situation is hopeless.
There are many reasons depression develops and a person cannot necessarily control all of the risk factors involved. Once a person has become depressed, it’s not a matter of just “talking themselves out of” a low mood.
Like diabetes or hypothyroidism, depression can happen because the body is not making enough of substances it needs to function properly. A person with diabetes cannot will their body to make more insulin.
A person experiencing depression due to low levels of neurotransmitters can’t simply “think” themselves into having more.
Similar to how people with diabetes might need treatment with insulin, people who have depression need medical intervention and support. For some people, this may mean taking medications that address chemical imbalances that can contribute to the condition.
How Are You Managing How Is Your Depression
This can give you some insight into how their treatment is going or if they need help getting professional assistance.
Depression is a medical condition. Its not a flaw or weakness. If someone you love has depression, encourage them to seek professional help if they havent already done so. Remind them that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Asking how their treatment is going can also encourage them to stick with their treatment plan. You may also tell them when youve noticed improvements. This can help validate its working, even if they dont always feel like it is.
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How Is Depression Treated
Depression treatment typically involves medication, psychotherapy, or both. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, brain stimulation therapy may be another treatment option. In milder cases of depression, treatment might begin with psychotherapy alone, and medication added if the individual continues to experience symptoms. For moderate or severe depression, many mental health professionals recommend a combination of medication and therapy at the start of treatment.
Choosing the right treatment plan should be based on a persons individual needs and medical situation under a providers care. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best for you. You can learn more about the different types of treatment, including psychotherapy, medication, and brain stimulation therapies on the NIMH’s depression webpage. For information on finding a mental health professional and questions to ask when considering therapy, visit NIMHs psychotherapies webpage.
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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Do You Feel Depressed
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in the United States and can be attributed to a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.2
If you have a friend or family member struggling with depression, you might not know what to say or how to lend support. The single best thing you can do for a friend with depression is listen without judgment.
There are a number of phrases that are sometimes used with good intentions but can actually make a person with depression feel worse. Avoid these phrases when supporting a friend with depression:
Learn About What Your Friend Is Going Through
Not totally sure what depression or anxiety are, or how to help a friend with depression or anxiety? A really great first step in helping your friend is to find out more about depression, anxiety or anything else your friend is going through this will help you to better understand what’s happening and how they feel.
My friends try to learn more about what Im experiencing, especially asking for and going to sources of information I recommend. hellofriend
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Do It In A Casual Environment
Research has shown that doing some form of activity, whether its going for a walk, or going out for a coffee, can improve peoples mood. Thats why its a good idea to talk to the person when youre out doing something together that you enjoy. Not only will this serve as a distraction so that both of you can gather your thoughts if needed, but being in a generally better mood is likely to make it much easier for you to open up about depression.
What Not To Say: I Miss The Old You
These were actual words said to me when I was depressed, and they cut me pretty deep. Having depression is mentally draining, and as hard as it can be to watch someone you love going through depression, its much harder having to be the one living with it. Depression can steal your identity and make you feel alone, and therefore when people say things like this that acknowledge youre not yourself, it can really hurt. These words implied that I was unlovable, that I was hard work, and that it was tiresome being my friend when I had depression. My friend probably meant that she missed seeing me happy, but the words she used brought attention to the fact depression had made me someone I wasnt, and the fact that I had no control over this was hard to deal with.
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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
Its Ok To Not Feel Ok
Whether your friend or loved one is currently getting treatment or hasnt received a formal diagnosis, its OK if theyre not OK. Everyone has good and bad days. We all deserve some grace.
Sometimes, they might feel shame if theyre experiencing difficult feelings, so it might help to remind them that its OK to feel that way. Making it safe for them to express and sit with their real feelings in your presence can go a long way.
And just because right now is bad doesnt mean later will be.
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They May Start Needing More From You
A depressed person legitimately cant function like a mentally health person. There will be things they will no longer be able to do as much of, as often, or at all. Pestering or shaming them about it will only hurt, not help. If theyve been keeping their depression private, it will be that much harder to deal with others getting irritated with them because they cant perform at the level thats expected of mentally healthy people.
This is why its always best to be understanding with those in your life, both work and personal. You dont know if someone isnt just slacking off, but is struggling with a real health problem.
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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