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Supporting Loved Ones With Depression

Learn how to offer hope, help, and healing

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If you love someone who struggles with a mood disorder, chances are you're often confused or challenged as to how to best help.

One of the first things to know is that friends and family members can be a lifeline for someone who lives with depression. And second, that, there are many things you can do to help.

Tips for Supporting a Loved One

1) Listen Compassionately: One of the most important things you can do is just listen to your loved one. Ask how they're feeling, but don’t force them to talk if they aren’t interested. When they do share, allow conversations to flow in an easy and open way. Don't tell them how to feel better or what to do to feel better. A good way to be a great listener is to know that the word listen contains the same letters as the world silent. And great listeners are quiet. They listen to hear what the other is experiencing. They listen to offer support. After you listen to your loved one, ask what things you can do to help them when they're feeling depressed.

2) Understanding Depression: It's also important for you to understand the illness of depression, its symptoms, course, and treatments. This will help you understand your loved one better. It will also help you know if your loved one is improving in a timely way, if they need different treatment, or require more assistance.

3) Supporting Their Treatment: One critical area of support for loved ones with depression is helping them maintain their treatment plan. This includes taking medications as prescribed, seeing healthcare practitioners as recommended, and seeking additional support as necessary. You may need to be the person to remind your loved one to take medication every day. You may also help by setting up and/or taking them to healthcare appointments.

4) Help with Day-to-Day Living: Often, people with depression have difficulty with some of the basics of day-to-day living. If severe enough, depression can leave a loved one completely immobilized, unmotivated and unable to do many of life’s simplest tasks. During these times, a person with depression will need support in ordinary activities. You may need to encourage them to shower, to eat, or to get some fresh air. And sometimes people might need help going to the grocery store, cleaning the house and paying bills.

5) Supporting Regular Activities: Try to encourage your loved one to maintain the activities he or she regularly does when they're not depressed. Be it work, school or socializing. Don’t force them to do things if they aren’t ready, but do try to help them stay involved in their lives.

6) Recognizing Warning Signs for Suicide: It's important to know that people with depression are more likely to attempt suicide or die by suicide. Take any comments about not wanting to wake up, wishing to die, never feeling any more pain or you'll be better without me as requiring immediate attention. So, too, is the giving away of items, feeling suddenly better and other suicide warning signs.