If you know someone who is struggling with depression, you may not always know the best ways to help and comfort them. We’ve put together a list of 8 things you can do to support your loved one through their depression:
1. Encourage them to get treatment.
Depression is more than just sadness, it is a medical condition. You can give your loved one a shoulder to cry on, but in most cases that won’t be enough. Professional treatment is essential. You can help your loved one by urging them to get treatment and then supporting them every step of the way to recovery. If they seem reluctant to take action, remind them that depression is a real medical condition and there is no shame in seeking help.
2. Be patient and understanding.
You’ll need to have patience because the love and understanding you provide, while being helpful, won’t “cure” them. You can’t simply tell your friend to be happy or give them advice to instantly solve their problems. You alone will not be the solution and while your support will be invaluable, they must work things out for themselves.
3. Stay involved in their progress.
Once they’ve started treatment, encourage them to keep up with it. Ask them if they’re going to appointments or regularly taking any prescribed medication. If they answer no, urge them to get back in the swing of things. Sometimes, your encouragement can mean more than a doctor or physician’s.
4. Be a good listener.
Don’t be afraid to talk about their condition with them. Let them know that they are loved. You can help keep them out of danger by listening carefully for signs of suicidal thoughts. If they speak in a way that is overly pessimistic or hopeless, you may need to step in and call a doctor or take them to the ER.
5. Stay in contact.
Stay in contact with them and help them get involved in social events and fulfilling activities. People suffering from depression can start to feel isolated because they don’t want to be a burden to their friends and family. Make them feel welcome by inviting them to participate in activities that are rewarding or relaxing. It may take a bit of prodding to get them involved but it will do a tremendous amount of good for them.
6. Praise their accomplishments.
Help them feel good about the little things they accomplish. You can lift their spirit and help them feel better able to cope with life by pointing out the simple yet important things they accomplish each day. Help them set small goals that feel doable.
7. Do some research.
You can better understand your loved one’s struggles by reading up on depression. You can help them feel understood and validated by showing real interest in their problems and immersing yourself in their circumstances. This can also help you better know how to help your friend and see the signs that they may be in danger.
8. Know that the battle may not be over.
If your friend or loved one has had struggles with depression in the past, they may have problems with depression again. Be aware of this and pay attention to any signs that they may be experiencing a sort of relapse. If they are going through a difficult or significant life experience such as childbirth, adolescence, divorce, or job loss they may be at increased risk of depression.