Depression is considered one of the most drastic mental health conditions that exist today.

While most of us may feel discouraged, irritable, or defeated every so often, some people who are diagnosed or are suspected to have depression experience these emotions extremely for an extensive period.

You see, depression is not just about feeling sad- it is not about crying over a miserable story that you read or watched.

Depression is a mental health condition that generates a constant feeling of unhappiness, worthlessness, and gradual loss of interest in everything. A person who is suffering from depression may have difficulty doing everyday tasks and feel as if there is no point in living.

According to the American Psychological Association, individuals who are diagnosed with depression may experience an immense lack of pleasure and interest in their daily activities.

Others may find displeasure on activities that they used to enjoy and even gain or lose a significant amount of weight.

Signs and symptoms of depression may vary from person to person.

But knowing how you can reach out, help a friend, or yourself, to overcome depression is a progressive step ahead to recovery.

Helping a friend with depression

Helping a friend who is diagnosed or yet to be diagnosed with a mental disorder relating to depression involves careful and whole-hearted support. You can’t just ask them to “stop being sad” because like I said, it is more than just sadness.

Sometimes, the intention of helping them can even make things worse. So you may be thinking, “okay, so how can I be of help?”

Find out more.

1. Listen carefully

When you have a loved one who is suffering from depression, it is important to engage in proper conversation. Begin by asking, “How have you been lately? What’s on your mind right now?”

Bear in mind that your friend may just need you to listen, and not give advice.

A better way to practice active listening with your loved one is by asking proper questions to better understand the situation they are in instead of pretending that you know what they are going through.

Another way to show that you are actively listening is to validate what they are feeling. Never compare their struggles to your struggles, or to the problems other people have because this is not a battle of “who has it worse”.

Listening is essential in helping your friend who is going through depression. At first, they may refuse to talk, and if this is the case, constantly let them know that you care and are ready to listen.

2. Do not provide advice

Your intentions may be set to help your loved one, but giving them advice may not be the one that they need at the moment.

Individuals who are depressed have a lot of things inside their minds. They are exhausted and drained enough, so it is best not to give them any advice.

Remember: Do not give advice until you are asked for one. Just stick with active and empathic listening as we do not completely feel the exact emotions that they are going through.

3. Encourage to seek help from professionals

Your loved one may be unsure that they have depression and or hesitant to seek help.

Support and let them know that there is nothing wrong with seeking help from professionals as we do the same when we are experiencing physical suffering.

If you are suspecting that your loved one may have depression, do not be the one to claim the diagnosis, rather encourage them to consult experts.

Clinical psychologists and other mental health professionals have adequate training to conduct assessments and diagnoses for people who are struggling psychologically.

We can only do so much for our families and friends, but we are in no position to conduct therapy for them.

4. Strong support in progressing therapy

Going to therapy does not mean you have to leave your loved one all of a sudden. Constant support for your friend or family member who is undergoing therapy is essential that keeps them going.

The support you provide gives them the encouragement that they need- letting them know that they are not alone in this battle.

5. Understanding depression and how it affects individuals

You cannot provide the support you want to give if you do not completely understand depression and how it significantly imposes a psychological impact on one’s life.

Do factual research about depression and its scope. You can better support your family member or your friend if you know better about what they are going through.

You may also ask your friend about what they are feeling but don’t make them explain the definition and nature of depression as this is extra exhausting and elaborate.

Although depression varies from person to person, it is vital to know the fundamental symptoms of depression so you can have better communication with your loved one.

6. Ask how you can be of help

Sometimes, we do not know how we can be of help to our loved ones. In such circumstances, ask properly what you can do for them.

If you see that they are struggling with everyday tasks, you can volunteer to help but do not insist if they firmly refused.

Again, proper communication helps, and asking how you can be of help is important to also know what they need and how you can be there for them.

7. Constantly reach out

I understand that there are times that we are not 24/7 physically available for people we love and that solitude and peace are important to let them breathe and think for themself.

Reaching out to our loved ones will serve as a reminder that they are genuinely loved and that they are not alone in this struggle.

But if you are reaching out, avoid forcing yourself on your loved ones as that time may not be the perfect moment for them and that explaining may leave them exhausted and drained.

8. Be empathic

One thing about a person who is diagnosed with depression is that, sometimes, they can have mood swings and sudden personality changes which can catch us off guard.

Be more understanding of the person and the situation. Having been said a while ago, depression is not just mere sadness where we can resolve quickly. Depression can even last for weeks and more, and that the person who is experiencing the symptoms is on the verge of giving up sometimes.

Let us not shun our loved ones away just because they are experiencing depression, rather, let’s be more understanding and patient as they do not mean to harm us.

9. Know when to intervene

As depression is a serious disorder, it can worsen over time. Some individuals who experience the symptoms of depression may be at risk of suicide as well.  It’s important to observe them properly so that we know when to intervene.

Here are some indicative signs that your loved ones may be having suicidal thoughts:

  • Constant talking about death
  • Self-injury
  • Giving away their important belongings
  • Talking about getting away
  • Frequently saying goodbye

But not all people who have suicidal thoughts speak of these things which is why it is essential to reach and check out on your loved ones.

10. Check on yourself too

As much as we want to help our loved ones and be there for them, we can only do that if we also check ourselves too. Investing all our energy in our family or friends means you will have little to no left to check for yourself.

There is nothing wrong with helping them, but looking after yourself is important so you can help them better.

Takeaways

Depression is a serious condition and it is not just “in your head” and it’s not just a mere “sadness” because it is so much deeper than that.

If things get out of hand, of course, rely on experts to help you out as they know what measures to take and how can be best of help to you and your loved one.

Do not deprive yourself and your loved ones of the help and assistance that you need as mental health is as important as physical health as well.

About Admin

Nicole T. Conquilla is a 21-year old registered Psychometrician in the Philippines. She is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Psychology who is a strong mental health advocate and encourages people to discuss, help, and support one another to cope and get through their mental health problems.

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