Depression is a tricky subject, to say the least. Causes can be hard to pin down, treatments work differently for different people. Although symptoms may be similar, everyone’s experience of it is different.
It’s easy to feel helpless when a loved one is struggling with depression. The truth is that there’s a lot you can do to help, and you might already be doing more than you think.
Depression: What You Can Do To Help
Get Rid of Doubt and Judgment
First, let’s start with some of the things you should never say to a loved one with depression. You shouldn’t criticize them or judge them or believe that emotional distress is equivalent to “emotional weakness,” as that just isn’t true.
Don’t think that tough love is the way, as that can only add more pressure that can be paralyzing. You shouldn’t minimize their pain or draw comparisons to depressive episodes you may have suffered in the past.
By working from preconceptions or positions of judgment, you immediately close the door to them wanting your help in future.
Leave a Little Love
On the other hand, letting them know that they are loved and valued by you can help improve their self-esteem.
Sometimes, it doesn’t always sink in, but small gestures of affection and care can build the sense of trust and real care that can make them more open to sharing their problems. They may even be ready to accept help from you soon.
Identify Potential Causes and Solutions
The “cause” of depression is hard to find. It can be ruled by genetic predisposition amongst other factors we can’t control. But there are other factors that we can manage that we can also help with. We can help make life less stressful by helping around the house or with kids, for instance.
If your loved one is one of those affected by the ongoing opioid epidemic, you can help them find the therapy and treatment they need. However, you should only offer to help them find treatment if and when they ask.
Learn What You Can From Them
If they open up to you, don’t feel like you have to immediately respond. It’s a natural inclination to want to provide a solution when we hear a problem. Sometimes, however, your loved one just needs to know that they are being listened to and that you’re there for them. Sometimes, the best course of action is to stay quiet.
Not only are you giving them the point of contact they might desperately need, but you can learn more about what they’re going through. That way, if and when they do ask for help, you might have some more informed ideas on how to provide it.
The tips above should be used as guidelines on how to react and how to be there, rather than a set of instructions you should look to impose. Your loved one can only accept help when they are ready to and trying to rush it can often make things worse.
Staying resilient and being ready to help when they’re ready to accept it is critical.
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