Depression, while commonly heard and well known is not completely accepted as a real disorder. People experience lows or sadness from time to time. However, some people experience intensified sadness for longer periods of time. This can go on for months, weeks and even years without any apparent reason. Depression is more than just a low mood. It is a chronic psychological and physical disorder that affects how a person see themselves, how they see the world and how they function in their day to day lives.
While every case is unique and treatments vary, there are universal things you can try to help a friend or a loved one to facilitate their healing and recovery.
Here are 10 ways you can help someone with depression:
1. Recognize The Symptoms
Although depression is mostly invisible, there are some symptoms that are quite apparent. People with depression often feel fatigued and have trouble sleeping. They begin to lose interest in activities they once found pleasurable such as hobbies. Isolation soon follows at the same time their thinking and concentrating skills begin to diminish.
Depression isn’t just an occasional feeling of sadness or loneliness that people experience from time to time. Instead, a person with depression will feel like they have sunk into a bottomless, dark pit with no way out a no hope for things to ever change. By knowing what to look for, you can help your loved one get the assistance that they need.
2. Encourage Them To Get Treatment
While you can help by offering to listen and being there for them, it is best if they are encouraged to get serious help. You can convince them to talk to a health care professional, specifically a mental health professional be it a doctor, a counselor or a therapist since they are the people qualified enough to handle and offer treatment.
3. Make Them Feel Loved And Accepted
Isolation and despair is a big part of depression. Most of the time, a depressive usually thinks of themselves as undeserving for any kind of affection. With the stigma surrounding depression, it is often unsurprising how most depressive are hesitant to open up about their condition. That is why it is important to show them that no matter what happens, they are still loved and accepted. That you are there to give them support and that you will be there every step of the way.
4. Help Them Take Care Of Themselves
Depressive people often find it difficult to perform appropriate self care by themselves. These include inability to eat properly, sleeping on a regular schedule, and basic hygienic practices. You can provide assistance by simply reminding them and being there for them. Little things such as an invitation to go to the park or a simple praise about them eating can help them in the long term.
5. Encourage Physical Activities
Exercise is a good and proven way to combat depression. This stimulates the body to release hormones to the blood stream and the brain that helps alleviate depression. That is why it is highly encouraged for them to leave the house and do something physical. You can help them by inviting them to walk around the block or the park.
6. Help Them Break The Negative Thought Patterns
Depression is characterized by serious patterns of negative thinking about themselves and the world around them. While it is mostly the therapist’s job to counter and challenge the self-persecutory thoughts through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, non-therapists can help too. When a depressive person begins to say things such as “Nobody cares for me,” or “I’m useless,” you must avoid direct confrontation. Instead, challenge them by asking “Why do you think so?” or “What makes you say that?”
Even if logic eludes some depressive, it is encouraged to help them think empirically at the same time talk about their inner demons.
7. Watch Out for Signs of Hallucinations and Delusions
If you notice that a depressive person begins to have hallucinations and delusions, it is highly advised that they are brought in for hospitalization. Delusions include feelings of worthlessness and failure, further facilitated by hallucinations that include hearing voices that they are not good enough. This voices will often leave them overwhelmed, leading them to attempt hurting themselves.
8. Suicide Watch
The most notable feature of depression if the feeling of being stuck in a pit of tar, slowly sinking with no way out. The heavy weight of the anger, sadness, fear, loneliness and confusion coupled with the extremely held belief of worthlessness and despondence is crippling that sometimes, death seems to be the only relief. Suicide is a tragic action that resonates within everyone who knew that person. It can be prevented with knowing what to look for.
It is important to watch signs of suicidal ideation. These include talking about death, or dying. Using phrases such as “when I’m gone.” Increased risky behavior and decreased social contact or turning into drugs and alcohol.
9. Be Patient
It is important to remember to be patient with someone who has depression. It is not their fault and no one ever wants to be depressed. While it may be nice to just “get over it”, it simply just isn’t possible. The neurochemical imbalance simply prevents it that sometimes, only death seems to be the only escape. It takes a special person to handle all the fear, anxiety, loneliness and confusion without condemnation and judgment.
10. Take Care Of Yourself
It isn’t always easy to help the depressed person get treatment, but it can be done, and helping can make you both feel better. Never forget, fixing a depressive person is not your job. The experience is draining, difficult and toxic. It is important to establish barriers, seek emotional support and assistance from networks and experts, and to take time for yourself.
The best person to help a depressed individual is someone who knows how to step away and give space. Otherwise, the negative energy would drag you down with them.