Depression is a lonely struggle that can often go unrecognized and undiagnosed. You would actually be in a relationship with someone who is clinically depressed and not even know the extent of what is going on with them. The same can be said for a family member or even a spouse that you’re living with. If someone you care about has been diagnosed with depression, then your instinct will be to offer support. Nothing wrong with that. Here are some ways that you can help them:
A person can be impacted by depression in several different ways. A common target are energy levels. They just don’t have the inclination to do the kinds of things that might seem “normal.” Getting out of bed and being motivated to go to work is arduous. Even doing household chores can be draining. All of this means you have to adjust your expectations as to their lack of motivation. Support is about being patient.
Lecture Less. Listen More
Although your heart is in the right place, you probably aren’t equipped to “fix” a depressed person’s problems. The root causes run deep. Yes, you might have opinions and what appears to be simple solutions but it would be far better to just listen more and lecture less. And listening is just that, listening. If you’re asked for advice, then give it but you don’t need to have a plan or engage. Listening is every helpful.
A walk outdoors can be invigorating on many levels. Again, this isn’t a problem solving situation but an example of how a small gesture can be a big help. Encouraging your loved one to go for a walk in the sun can boost their vitamin D levels and that can help release serotonin. All good things for the body and the mind. These trips don’t have to be challenging hikes. A short stroll can be very therapeutic.
Help Find a Therapist
Your loved one is going to need the support of a certified therapist. That can be a game changer but getting them to the therapist can be daunting for them. It is not that they don’t want the help, they just might not be able to focus. This is where you can step in and help them find a therapist. Start with what their insurance might cover and then do the research. It can also help to get recommendations from their or your doctor.
Someone who is depressed isn’t really focused on taking care of themselves as they should. That is especially true around meal time. You can help out by preparing healthy meals to share. Even if you aren’t a cook, there are plenty of home delivery options and prepared meals you can pick up that would be easy to make a dinner out of. By taking over the dinner task, it will be one less thing your loved one will have to deal with.
Embrace the Gravitas
Unless you’ve experienced clinical depression, it is hard to understand totally what the other person is going through. Suggesting they “snap out of it” isn’t going to fix anything. You need to embrace the gravitas of what they’re going through. Remind them that although you might not be feeling what they are, you are still going to provide whatever support they need. Just leave it at that.
Keep Hope Alive
The goal for a depressed person is to find a way out of the “darkness.” That path can be lit with the hope of a promising future. You can help by planning out activities to do once they start to feel better. This can be a vacation or renovation plans. Having something to look forward to goes a long way towards lifting spirits.
Take Care of Yourself, Too
You can’t commit to helping someone unless you’re also taking care of yourself. It is important to keep up with those things that bring you please like going to the gym or the occasional lunch with friends. Isolating yourself with the depressed person can compound the situation and have you building up resentment. That is not going to help either one of you.
There is no timetable attached to curing depression. Take the pressure off of both of you and allow the recovery process to play out.