Clinical depression or major depressive disorder is a serious medical condition that requires ongoing treatment to manage symptoms. It takes compassion, patience, and strength to love someone with depression. Understanding their disorder is key to knowing how to support your loved one. Here are some ways you can help a loved one who has depression.
Those with depression are at an increased risk of suicide and other mental health disorders. Your loved one may exhibit signs or behaviors when they have a depressive episode. Have those symptoms worsened? Did something happen that caused their depression to worsen?
If so, your loved one may need to contact their therapist or healthcare provider. Seek help if they exhibit suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Don’t wait to take action.
Your loved one may feel that their depression is a sign of weakness. They may feel ashamed or guilty.
They may think that people dislike them because of their depression, or that their depression makes them a burden or difficult to be around.
Recognize that while these thoughts may be distorted, you should not try to disagree or correct them. Let your loved one know that you hear and accept them. Don’t diminish their feelings. You may not understand their experience. The best thing you can do is listen.
Use Helpful Language
When you listen and validate, it’s important to use appropriate language. The goal is to create a safe space where they feel comfortable opening up to you.
I care about you.
You are important.
I may not fully understand what you’re going through, but I hear you.
How can I help you or provide support?
How are you coping?
When did you start to feel this way?
Offer to Assist with Tasks or Chores
Depression causes fatigue and loss of interest. Sometimes, one of the best ways to help is to assist with daily chores or errands. Offer to handle some of their errands, schedule appointments, or help around the house.
Daily tasks can feel daunting for someone with depression. Helping in this way can alleviate that burden for your loved one.
Help Them Get Professional Treatment
Depression and other mental health disorders can be treated. For many individuals, finding treatment can be overwhelming. Offer to help your loved one choose a therapist or explore treatment options. Be their advocate.
If your loved one is hesitant to see a mental health professional, suggest that they talk with their primary care provider instead. This may be less intimidating, but it still enables them to get the help they need.
Treatment can offer your loved one hope in the darkness. It may take some reassurance to help them get treatment.
If you are seeking professional help for a loved one with depression, contact Pyramid Healthcare for information on outpatient mental health programming. Our admissions staff can also provide referrals for inpatient treatment and other services.