How to help a person with depression
Have you ever wondered how to help a person with depression? This post gives you all the details you need.
One night, I got a call from my friend; she said, “I’m so tired of my life, I can’t eat or sleep; I don’t want to live anymore.
Her depression was worsening, and everyone became worried. Well, no one truly knew how to help her out.
She was turning 27 and really anxious about her low level of achievements.
I knew how she felt because I’ve had firsthand experience with depression. This made me feel responsible for helping her get off that “ledge”.
There has been that much talk about depression, and it is a severe condition. But what can you really do for a person with depression?
I share them here because, after years of groaning in the same pain, I realized that I needed these the most.
How to help a person with depression
Most people get it wrong when giving advice on how to help a depressed person. I know this because i was once in depression, but mostly didn’t get the exact help I needed.
However, with these tips, it is hard to go wrong when planning on how to help a person with depression.
- Ensure you feel okay
It will be challenging to help a person with depression if you feel depleted or overwhelmed.
When caring for a person with depression, you need to take some time off to recharge your batteries.
Podell’s book “Contagious Emotions: Staying Well When A Loved One Is Depressed” says that depression is contagious like a cold or flu. There is a tendency for close friends or family members of people with depression also to become depressed.
- Don’t focus the conversation on their emotions
I know we fall victim to it, but you should never approach a depressed person with talks about how they feel.
Asking them questions like “what’s up with you? You’ve been turned down and anxious/irritable lately” when trying to help a person with depression can make them feel accusatory.
This will cause them to pull away or snap at you.
However, if you want to be helpful, try using open-ended questions like:
- How have you been?
- Is everything okay?
- You don’t seem like yourself lately
- Can I help you with something
- It looks like you’re struggling
This will put the person more at ease than when you focus primarily on their emotions.
- Say the right thing
Most times, a friend will tell you that they are depressed if they find you trustworthy. However, getting them to tell you that they’re depressed is not just the only thing. You need to make them continue trusting you to allow you into their deepest fears.
That is why I wrote this specific post on what to say to a depressed person. You’ll find it very helpful.
- Learn more about depression
You can be more beneficial to your friend with depression if you understand what they are going through.
I know you may not get the entire picture of the feeling because you’re not the person going through it.
However, knowing what goes on in their heads, how they see the world, what they mean when they say “I’m fine”, and why they feel like running away would help you know where to target and how to get them to feel more comfortable.
When studying depression, remember to read about the types of depression, their treatments, helpful remedies, and the misconceptions and stigma surrounding mental illness.
You should also find out about the core symptoms of depression, both emotional and physical, as it will help you tell when your friend is having a hard time.
- Try not to blame them
In as much as we become judgmental without knowing, you should be very careful of what you say or how you react to a depressed person, especially when they can’t meet up the expectations.
People with depression usually find it challenging to participate in the activities they once enjoyed or even function well at work or home.
They also quickly become frustrated, but you need to understand that being depressed is not the same thing as being lazy.
Though everyday activities like cleaning the house and the others feel very easy for you, they are overwhelming and tiring for a person with depression.
However, learning how to help a person with depression doesn’t mean you should take up all the tasks a depressed person leaves lying on yourself.
It will be more tiring for you and make you overwhelmed. Just do what you can.
- Be open and welcoming, and supportive
One of the best things you can do to help a person with depression is letting them know that they can talk to you about anything (i.e. If they truly are).
More than cooking or cleaning for them, a person with depression appreciates a listening ear.
When conversing with them, ask open-ended questions just to be precise. Sometimes, talking about how you feel on the inside can really help them clear things up.
- Find help for them
If you’ve tried to find help for a depressed person before, you may notice that they ended up being so annoyed at you for telling someone else about “their” depression.
However, since you are sincere about helping your friend, try to get past this accusation.
You can be that best friend for your friend or family member with depression by encouraging them to speak with a trusted adult or a health professional.
You can even encourage them to go for therapy; offer to pay for it if you have the money. When they have the best mental health plans, they will quickly overcome the situation.
- Give them sweet surprises to make them feel special
One of the most prevalent emotions that go through a person’s mind when they’re depressed is rejection.
Though everyone around them may love them, they still feel deprived of love and care and probably think no one wants to see them. I know that that’s a crappy feeling, but that is the more reason you need to pull your friend from the sinking sand.
Giving your friend a sweet surprise will help them feel remembered. This means that you will not have to wait for them to ask for everything before you do.
One of the things I consider most important for you to do for your friend with depression is taking them out for a walk in a natural habitat.
They could enjoy a place where they hear the singing birds and sounds of crickets.
However, it is not limited to this.
You can also take them on dates, or buy them fancy clothes, or pay for whatever it is they need. You aim to get them to trickle down some tears, not for more depression, but joy.
- Stay positive
When thinking of how to help a person with depression, remember that positivity influences just like negativity. You can pass that good vibe to your friend by offering them hope.
You should be mindful so that your positivity doesn’t appear to them as pride or like you do not understand how they feel.
Always tell them that things will get better and that they will bounce out of it.
However, if your friend is becoming suicidal, seek external help.
- Be unconditional when loving them
It is hard to love a person unconditionally. However, when dealing with a person with depression, it is worth the try.
When a person is depressed, they will have a deep sense of guilt and feel burdensome to those around them. Sometimes, they may even believe that their loved ones will do better without them.
These feelings can be really uncomfortable for you, especially if you’re doing everything in your power to make them feel okay.
However, don’t take it personally; keep showing them the love anyway.
If you, by any reason, become discouraged or angry and lash out at them, get back as soon as possible and explain that you were just frustrated with their condition and not with them.
Tell them that you want them to feel better and happier in no distant time.
How to help a depressed suicidal person
We would be wrong if Like everything, suicide begins with the mind, and you can tell that a friend is becoming suicidal when they start saying things like “I just want to die”, “I wish I weren’t here anymore”, or “why do I even wake up today?”
These thoughts are either passive or active.
When a person is passively suicidal, they will only blame themselves for being alive wanting to die. However, they will have no active plan.
This doesn’t mean you should leave them unattended. Keep finding a way out and encourage them to meet with a counselor.
If a person is actively suicidal, they have laid out a plan for death. Hence, you need to stay close to them or ensure that they are safe before leaving.
Ask if they can stay safe for a period. If they can’t, get them to agree to do something else (like calling their family member) when they think they are approaching the breaking point.
However, it is essential for you not to leave them alone when you feel unsafe or actively suicidal. If possible, let them move into your place and stay for a while until they can pick up their pieces.
NOTE: raise the alarm if you need to because some suicidal people won’t even tell you when they try to execute the plan.
How to take care of yourself when caring for a depressed person
The most important thing to do when caring for a person with depression is to ensure that you are mentally and physically healthy.
Caring for a depressed person can be exhausting, and you don’t want to become depressed yourself. That is why you must apply these steps to keep yourself in shape.
- Don’t take it personally
A person with depression may be anxious, aggressive, and highly irritable. Sometimes, they may even be withdrawn and push you away when you try to help.
Don’t blame them, and try not to take it personally. It has nothing to do with you but a lot with how they feel.
I know that it can be challenging not to take it personally, especially when you are in a romantic relationship with a depressed person.
However, their pulling away or not engaging in romantic activities doesn’t mean they do not love you anymore. In fact, research has shown that low sex drive is one of the classic symptoms of depression.
- Don’t ignore your feelings
Caretakers go through a lot as well as depressed people. So, know when to pull back. You need to be healthy first before caring for a person with depression.
When you are worried about your friend, it is possible for your stress levels to increase and your moods to decrease. So, look out for how you feel to identify when you become too worried or agitated.
If you feel overwhelmed, feel free to talk to someone about it. You can also join some caretaker support groups for people with depression to have close discussions with a counselor.
- Keep doing the things you enjoy
It can be challenging to leave a person with depression, especially if they have become suicidal. However, you need to find some time to engage in the activities you enjoy.
If possible, take your friend along with you for the event.
Whatever the case may be, avoid fun for too long.
- Create boundaries
You will not be able to do everything for your friend; if you try, you will become weary, which is not good.
Give yourself boundaries on how far you are willing to go and what you are ready to do.
For instance, you can decide not to stay away from events because your friend can’t attend or not to answer any phone calls when it gets past midnight.
- Find some time for rest
How to help a person with depression is stressful, and you will need some time to unwind. Creating some room for rest is the best thing you can do.
- Seek help
Your friend’s depression does not take away your emotional needs. Have other people to talk to about your feelings and other issues in your life.
There is only so much you can do when planning on how to help a person with depression.
The actual job lies in knowing how they feel and their genuine intentions when they act the way they do.
I hope this article has been helpful. Share it with a friend.