If you have a friend or family member who is struggling with depression, there are many things you can do to help.
One of the most important things you can do is be patient and offer support. This can make a world of difference for someone who is depressed.
1. Be Patient
When you're dealing with a friend or family member who has depression, it can be easy to get frustrated. But the best way to help is to be patient.
Being patient is a trait that can be hard to master, but it's a skill that can pay off in the long run. In fact, recent research has shown that patience can actually improve your mental health.
Patience can be a tricky word to understand because it's often used in the context of waiting for something, but it also refers to a specific quality or attitude. It's not just about being calm, tolerant, or understanding; it can be about being selfless and generous.
This is because having patience can be so much more tolerant of other people's flaws and quirks than someone who's patient in the moment but doesn't have the selflessness or generosity to tolerate them.
To be patient, you need to think about the big picture and avoid making hasty decisions that have immediate gratification. You may need to make sacrifices and give up some of your short-term wants, but those sacrifices will be worth it in the long run. You can also practice being more patient with others by observing them in different situations and seeing how they handle difficult moments. And you can even train yourself to be more patient with your own thoughts and feelings.
2. Offer Support
A friend or family member with depression needs someone to talk to and offer support. It's not always possible to give advice or fix the problem, but you can help by being a compassionate listener who's willing to validate your friend's feelings.
If you're not sure how to help, think about the last time you were going through a tough time. When you needed support, didn't you want to talk to someone who would understand?
Be open about your own struggles with depression, so your friend or family member knows that you can also feel the same way. It's not uncommon for people with depression to be reluctant to seek professional help, so encourage them to seek therapy or medication.
Even if you're not a trained mental health professional, you can still offer practical assistance by helping your loved one make and keep appointments, research treatment options and stay on track with any prescriptions. This will help them feel more in control of their illness and may help them stay on track to recover.
In addition to offering practical assistance, you can help your friend or family member develop a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating well, exercising regularly, and maintaining a positive attitude.
Be persistent in your efforts to help, and don't be discouraged if it takes time for your friend or family member to respond to your offer. Depression is a complex disease, and recovery can take time.
3. Be Honest
When you want to help someone with depression, honesty is a critical factor. This is because honest communication can prevent them from feeling isolated, and it can also show them that you care about them.
When a friend or family member tells you they have depression, be gentle and sensitive to their feelings. It's easy for them to be resentful when they feel let down or rejected, so make sure you're there to listen to their concerns and take them seriously.
It's also important to be patient with them - they may need time to process what's happening in their life. Try not to push them into making decisions about their treatment and recovery.
While it's not always possible, it can be helpful to remind your loved one of their strengths and accomplishments in the past. This can bolster their confidence and encourage them to keep working on their mental health.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with depression, talk to a professional. They can give you advice about how to support them and get them the treatment they need. They can also recommend helpful resources.
4. Encourage Medication
Depression is a complex illness that can be treated with medication and therapy. If you notice that your loved one is depressed, encourage them to get help. You can offer to accompany them on their first visit to a doctor or therapist, or ask for guidance in helping them find a provider that works best for them.
Depression affects people of all ages and stages of life. It can cause significant problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, and relationships with others. It can also affect a person’s thoughts and feelings, making it hard to think clearly or feel good.
Many people who are depressed do not know they are suffering from the disorder. They may attribute their symptoms to fatigue, lack of energy, or other medical conditions. They may not see the point of treatment or be hesitant to go to a mental health professional.
Taking medication can be an effective way to treat depression, but it will likely take several weeks for symptoms to improve. It is important to monitor their progress and make sure they are still taking the medication as prescribed by their physician.
You can support your friend or family member by educating them on the side effects of their medication, explaining what to look for and how to get help if the medication is not working, and reassuring them that it is not their fault they are having to take it. This will give your friend a sense of comfort and confidence that you are supportive of their efforts to treat their depression.
5. Be Active
Exercise is a great way to keep you and your loved one healthy. It improves sleep, lowers blood pressure, protects against heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, reduces stress, and boosts mood.
Most health experts recommend moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, such as brisk walking or running, for at least 2.5 hours per week. You can do this at home or in a group, such as a sports team or fitness class.
Even if you're busy, you can make time for physical activity if you plan it in short bursts. For example, if you're stuck at your desk all day, go for a walk around the block or wash your car.
When you're active, your body releases neurotransmitters like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin that give your brain a healthy boost. Exercise also helps you replace unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as food and alcohol abuse or withdrawal from friends and family, with something positive.
If you’re having trouble getting active, talk to your healthcare team about what might help. Your doctor can suggest exercises you might enjoy and provide you with a personalized plan for getting more exercise.
It’s important to note that depression usually improves with treatment. Sometimes, it may take several rounds of therapy or medication before symptoms disappear completely.
6. Take Care of Yourself
Depression is a serious illness, and it can be difficult to know how to help a friend or family member. The key to helping someone who is suffering from depression is to be compassionate, listen carefully, and stay educated.
Your understanding of depression can help you offer support to a loved one, but it is also important for you to take care of yourself. Getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly can make you less depressed. It is also good to have a regular social life and spend time with friends.
Taking care of yourself can be challenging if you are a caretaker, but it is important for your mental health and for your ability to continue helping your loved one. Keeping your own life and schedule as normal as possible will prevent you from becoming burned out or feeling like you are letting them down.
It can be helpful to find a professional support group or counseling program for caregivers. This will allow you to share your experience and learn from others who have experienced similar situations.
You can also ask your loved one what they need from you, and make sure to take into account their preferences. For example, some people may need emotional support, while others might need practical assistance, such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping.
Ultimately, depression is a medical illness that requires professional treatment. Most people recover from depression with the right combination of behavioral changes, medication, relationship changes, and therapy.