We all have those days when we feel down, which can be perfectly normal. It becomes an issue if these low feelings persist and begin to affect a person’s day to day life. If this is the case, the term depression can come into play.
It is common for someone who is suffering with depression to be unaware that they feel different or that they are not behaving in their usual manner. Quite often it is a spouse, friend or a member of the family that recognizes that this person needs help, and encourages their loved one to seek advice from a medical professional or another support network.
Signs of Depression
There are many symptoms related to depression. Someone who is depressed may show some of these signs:
- Sleeping more than normal or having difficulty sleeping.
- No interest in taking part in the things that were once enjoyed.
- Concentration is affected negatively and everyday things such as reading or watching the television are now proving to be difficult.
- Feelings related to hopelessness or feeling down.
- Loss of appetite or an increase in appetite.
- Lack of energy or constantly feeling tired.
- Restlessness and fidgetiness.
Helping Someone who is Suffering from Depression
It can be very difficult when dealing with a loved one who is suffering with depression. You can be left feeling frustrated and confused and not sure of what to say. You may feel scared to upset them in any way which could have an adverse effect on them.
Depression is a disorder which isolates people and can cause damage to a relationship. Therefore, when you start to feel lost and don’t know how to help a loved one, everything can start to become more difficult and confusing. In order to help make some sense of the situation, below are many ways of how you can support a loved one with depression.
- Avoid Criticism
The words that you use with your loved one can have a profound effect on them. You need to avoid statements such as ‘It’s all in your head’ or ‘if you got out and about you will feel much better.’ These kinds of statements imply that your loved one has some kind of choice in how they are feeling, and made a decision to be depressed. It is clear to see that this will not help and will only cause your loved one to feel even more isolated.
- Be Available
It may sound simple but one of the most important things that you can do for someone who is suffering with depression is to be there for them. Being there to listen to them and provide comfort is vital.
- Don’t Offer Advice
It’s perfectly normal to try and offer advice to your loved one, as when we can see someone suffering, we want to fix the problem. Although it is true that someone who is suffering with depression needs guidance, actually saying that to a loved one can result in them feeling inadequate, which can cause them to feel even more isolated and detached. The best approach is to ask your loved one what you can do for them. This way your loved one is provided with an opportunity to reach out to you and ask for help.
- Be Patient
Patience is a key factor in helping your loved one. Patience allows them one to see that there is no rush. It doesn’t matter how many treatments are needed or how long this journey will take, as you will be there for them when they need you. Having this patience gives hope to your loved one, and hope is something that they may not think is possible.
- Tough Love Doesn’t Work
If you think that tough love is the best option for helping your loved one, you’d be wrong. Tough love, such as giving ultimatums, being difficult or not talking on purpose is as cruel as doing these things to someone who has a terminal illness. This approach will not fix depression or help a loved one positively in any way.
- Don’t Compare
Unless you’ve suffered with depression, it is not helpful to tell you loved one that you understand how they feel. Although you may be trying to help, all you are doing is nullifying their feelings and putting a stop to conversation between the two of you.
If you find it hard to offer emotional support, then you can look to offer support in another way. For example, you can cook your loved one a nice meal or simply send them a letter or a nice message. These small gestures are very important and can help your loved one feel a connection with you.
- Positive Encouragement
Try and encourage your loved one to practice more self-care if possible. For example, eating healthy, physical exercise and considering taking part in those things that they enjoyed doing in the past.
- Do Some Research
If you educate yourself about depression, you can avoid making all of the above mistakes. It is important to understand what the symptoms of depression are and what steps you can take to help your loved one. There are many outlets of services and support available. Look into psychological therapies such as TMS as well as support groups that are available in the local area.
- Don’t Forget About Yourself
As important as it is to look after your loved one, you need to remember to take care of yourself and your mental health. In order to be the best support system for your loved one, you need to make sure you are the best version of yourself.