How to Support a Loved One Who’s Depressed

Depression is an illness that affects
millions of Americans every year. Most likely you know someone who is
dealing with depression. It can be very difficult to support your
depressed loved one and  it can even take a toll on your emotional
state.
If you have a loved one who is depressed, here are a few things that you can do:

Educate Yourself – Like
any type of illness, it is important to educate yourself about it.
Knowledge is very powerful. Once you have learned about what they are
dealing with, you will be more equipped to support them. Be alert to symptoms and any changes in their behavior.

Know Your Role – You
must acknowledge that depression is an illness and you can’t cure it!
Do not be the hero and strive to fix the problem or even sound like you
are the authority on the matter. Your role is to be supportive and
sincere. You want to gain their trust not turn them away.

Don’t Withdraw – As
humans, we have the tendency to remove ourselves from people who are
depressed because they are trying to withdraw or isolate themselves from
us. As hard as it may be to stick around, it is exactly what they need.
They may tell you that they don’t need anyone, but they do. This is
going to take a lot of persistence on your part, but isolation is
detrimental to a depressed person. Remember that this behavior is not
personal, it is the illness speaking.

Listen – Let your
loved one talk. They may share things that are disturbing like
self-injury or suicide, but it is better for you to know these feeling
so you can use that information to protect them. Also, ask questions to
draw them out.

Be Proactive – Don’t say, “If there is
anything I can do, let me know.” Guess what…they won’t. Take a
proactive approach. Think of something specific that you can do for them
and offer that instead. If you find that they are in serious danger, do
something. You may have to push them to the doctor or even go to the
hospital. They may be angry at you, but that is not an excuse to let
them do something dangerous. You may have to get other people involved
to help you.

Take Care of Yourself – As a caregiver, it
is vital that you take care of yourself. You can’t help your loved one
if you are tapped out. Be balanced with yourself!

Helping someone
overcome depression will not be an easy journey, but it is well worth
your while. Be patient. In time your loved one will appreciate all your
love and consideration in their behalf. For more information, visit Overcoming Depression.
If you need help to overcome your own depression or support a family
member with their situation and live in the Portland, Oregon or
Vancouver, Washington area, please contact my office.

 

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