Living with Someone with Depression: Dos and Don’ts
Do you know someone who is depressed? Overcoming depression is a big challenge to face. Your support can play a significant role in their recovery process. Educating yourself about depression is really the first step to support a friend or family member with depression.
It can be hard to know what do and say when supporting someone with depression. Although depression may sometimes seem like it is just in someone’s head, mental illness should be taken seriously. Leave a diagnosis to a healthcare professional. Don’t say things like “toughen up” or “be a man,” it will only make him or her feel worse, as will ordering them around. Also, comparing how he or she is feeling to others who “have it worse” will only make them feel more hopeless. People with depression may lash out or be short tempered. Know that it is often the depression talking and not how they really feel. At first doing any one of these things might seem like a good way to help a friend, but could ultimately be detrimental.
Knowing the most effective way to provide support relieves much of the worry about saying and doing the right thing. Be sure to bring up the subject of his or her mental health carefully, he or she may not be used to talking about it. Often, it is much more important to listen closely to whatever your friend has to say.
It is also very important that your friend seek professional help. Helping him or her find a doctor that he or she is comfortable with can be a major turning point for someone with depression. Finding a doctor and making appointments can be overwhelming sometimes. Going with your friend to the appointment might be very reassuring for him or her as well. Also, making sure that a friend sticks to a medication regimen prescribed by a doctor is important.
Some other great tools you can use to support your friend as they manage their depression includes: Exercise - accompanying them on a nice walk; Reduce stress – help your friend reorganize themselves; Remind him or her how important they are by compiling letters and pictures of all the good things in their life; Agreeing to a set plan for improvement will help set limits and stages to his or her recovery.
Know your own limits. Helping a friend can be exhausting. Know when you cannot do anymore or need time to rest. You cannot help a friend if you are not your best. Also, it may be the case that your friend will not get better unless they get professional medical help. It is important to spend time with other friends or family. This will give you the energy to be your best for your friend in need.
These steps will help your friend with a depression as they recover.