Loving someone with depression can feel overwhelming and frustrating. There may be times when you want your loved one to “just snap out of it!” However, Depression is not a passing bout of sadness, but a clinical mood disorder that is out of the individual’s control.
When you attempt to support a loved one through the depths of depression there can be a lot of questions about what really is helpful. Despite the unfamiliar road to recovery, remember that there are ways for you to play a positive and helpful role in their healing.
Here are 5 suggestions to bring you up to speed on what depression symptoms look like, and how you can support your loved one.
1. Learn about depression. Without understanding this diagnosis, it can be difficult to identify the symptoms of depression. Learn the definition and symptoms of depression. In addition, there are plenty of first hand accounts on the Internet where individuals share their experience with the illness. Familiarize yourself with some of the testimonies in order to better sympathize with your partner.
Find more information on symptoms of depression by clicking here.
2. Offer an ear to listen. You may want to “fix the problem” and cure your loved one of the hurt and emptiness they are experiencing. Offering solutions or plans to get better can sometimes overwhelm and make a person coping with depression feel worse. Just sit. Listen. Make some tea to drink while they describe their experience in a non-judgmental space. Offer supportive statements, but do not attempt to relate to their experience. While you may not be able to share to their feelings, it is helpful to allow them the time to communicate their distressing thoughts and feelings aloud without judgment.
3. Encourage activities, but have appropriate expectations. If today getting out of pajamas into outerwear is difficult enough, maybe save the walk around the block for tomorrow. Small steps are huge victories when a person is feeling hopeless and distraught. Allow your loved one to rest and regroup, just as if they were experiencing physical ailments.
4. Take care of yourself. It can be overwhelming to be a support to someone going through an episode of depression. You may feel irritable, annoyed, fatigued or frustrated. All of these feelings are typical and it is helpful for you to address them. It is important you remember that you are also going through a shift in dynamics and need to engage in self-care.
5. Assist in finding professional help. While having a loved one by your side can make coping with depression more tolerable, it is important that the person with depression follow through with their treatment. You can provide help by driving them to appointments to see a therapist, reminding them to take their medicine, or simply sitting next to them while they navigate next steps. Psychology Today is a great database for finding a therapist that meets your needs.
This post was written by Anna Celander, LPC. Click here to book an appointment with Anna.