Watching a loved one sink deeper and deeper into the dark hole of depression is excruciating. It seems nothing you can say or do will alleviate the emotional pain they are in, no matter how much you want to help them. Day in and day out you feel helpless, walking on eggshells in a feeble attempt to not make things worse.
But there are ways of helping someone who is depressed. In fact, some of the most effective steps to take to show love and support are usually the simplest:
1. Listen. Hear them. Instead of attempting to offer advice, focus instead on simply listening. A compassionate listener who is fully present is more helpful that it might seem. Don’t try to “fix” them, but instead offer loving support. Ask them how you can best support them. Also, pay close attention to any signs that indicate thoughts of suicide, and if so do not leave them alone and immediately call a suicide helpline for assistance.
2. Do not judge them. Helping someone who is depressed can be like walking a tightrope. The last thing that a person who is enveloped in a dark cloud of self-loathing and despondency needs to hear is criticism. Resist the urge to disparage them because they seem frozen in their tracks and unable to function. They feel bad enough without family or friends making harsh comments about their state of mind. Every negative comment is compounded exponentially in their mind while in this emotional pit, so don’t contribute to their pain with judgment.
3. Be patient. Living with someone battling depression is extremely exhausting. Depression causes the individual to feel irritable and negative, and this dark demeanor can cast a wide shadow over everyone close to them. Practicing patience with your depressed loved one will help keep anger and irritability under control. It will also send a message to them that you are their ally, there for them through the duration of the illness.
4. Encourage them to seek help. Getting help for someone who is depressed needs to be a top priority. If the depressed individual doesn’t agree to see a mental health provider, encourage them to just get a general check-up with a physician. The general practitioner will be able to rule out a medical reason for the depression, and then refer them to a mental health provider.
5. Learn about depression. In order to understand how to help someone with depression you first need to have a working knowledge of the scope of the illness. Depression has many different shades and a wide range of symptoms. Understanding the scope of the illness will help you to know what the depressed loved one is going through, as well as give you the help and tools needed to navigate the difficulties that may arise.
6. Help them set small goals. When even getting out of bed in the morning seems insurmountable it isn’t helpful to suggest they shake it off and get back to life. Instead, understand that major depression is crippling and isolating so it is best to just encourage a small task—like getting out of bed in the morning—and then praise them if they were able to accomplish that.
7. Get them moving. Walking is an excellent activity that will benefit your loved one in several ways. Physical activity positively impacts mood, that is a proven fact. Walking also allows for a stress-free experience that doesn’t involve being in a crowded gym or a group. Instead just getting outside in the fresh air and having you to talk to provides many emotional and physical benefits.
8. Take care of yourself, too. Helping someone who is depressed can be very taxing. As a friend or family member, it quickly becomes apparent that you have little control over this mental health disorder. It is very important to keep up your own strength during this challenging time, and to seek support before you burn out. Maintain a healthy diet and get regular exercise so that you will be up to the task as needed.
Achieve TMS East Largest Provider of Deep TMS Therapy on the East Coast
Achieve TMS East offers three convenient locations for providing dTMS therapy in the Hampshire County region. Deep TMS is a safe and noninvasive alternative treatment for depression available to those who have not responded to antidepressants. Our compassionate professionals are extensively trained in the treatment of major depressive disorder and dedicated to helping someone who is depressed. For more questions about dTMS, please call us today at (877) 297-5816.