Depression (characterised by chronic low mood or intense sadness) affects not only the individual directly suffering from this common mental health illness but can also impact their loved ones and their support network.
When someone close to us is battling depression, it can be difficult to know how best we can support them. However, it is vital to remember the importance of our love, support and encouragement while they manage and overcome their illness.
If someone you know or love has depression (click here for more information regarding the symptoms of depression), read on to learn how you can support them through their journey with depression (while simultaneously maintaining your personal health).
Learn About Depression
The best place to start is to educate yourself as best you can about depression. A greater understanding of this illness enables you to sympathise as much as possible with regards to what your loved one is experiencing. The seriousness of depression should not be underestimated, and by understanding depression as best you can, you can begin to learn how best to approach and support someone who is having difficulty managing their depression.
Learn How To Talk To Someone Suffering From Depression
The most important thing you can do when someone close to you is suffering from depression is simple: listen. Encourage your loved one to speak to you about how they are feeling and what they are experiencing and listen as attentively and compassionately as you can, without judgement. The simple undertaking of having someone to talk to and to listen to you when you are struggling with the darkness of depression is of immense benefit.
For more information regarding the sorts of phrases you can utilise (and what not to say) to begin the conversation with your loved one, click here.
Remember To Take Care Of Yourself
Supporting someone you care about with depression is no easy feat – it is very normal for you to feel concerned, upset, helpless, frustrated, exhausted or even guilty at times about what is happening. This is why it is so important to take care of your own physical and emotional health. By maintaining your personal health, you put yourself in the best possible position to be able to adequately support your loved one through their depression.
Ensure you are eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, taking time out to relax your mind and do the things you love, and reaching out to others for support. By doing so, you are also setting an example for your loved one regarding the importance of taking care of our physical health (for both our body and our mind). Where necessary, do not hesitate to reach out for support for yourself as a carer, from a health professional.
Encourage Involvement In An Uplifting Activity
By participating in an activity that brings joy with another person, your loved one not only benefits from the distraction from their depression, but also the social interaction. You may need to start with activities within the home if getting out and about is too much for them at the present time. Gently encourage your loved one to watch a funny or joyful movie with you, or you can try getting creative on a project together (e.g. cooking, arts and crafts or playing instruments). If they’d like to get out for a while, you could try a gentle stroll around the block (endorphins bonus!) or head out for a nice meal somewhere locally.
Give Practical Assistance
Tasks that appear simple to others can seem hugely overwhelming for someone battling from depression. Do not underestimate the practical and emotional benefit of lending a hand when your loved one is struggling! You could try one/more of the following activities (where applicable):
-cooking them a healthy meal
-picking up some groceries for them
-doing some of their washing
-taking their dog for a walk
-dropping off or picking up their children
-running basic errands for/with them
The journey of recovery from depression is often a long one, and some days can be more challenging than others, for both your loved one directly suffering depression, as well as yourself (the carer). It is vital to remain as patient as possible – your loved one needs to know that you will be there for them from the beginning right to the very end of their depression journey. Remaining calm and patient will also benefit your personal health by reducing any unnecessary stress.
Encourage Them (When Possible) To Seek Professional Help And Treatment
Many people who battle with depression may not recognise how much they are struggling, and it can be a lightbulb moment when someone who cares about them is able to gently suggest it may be time to seek professional help.
If you come up against any resistance when suggesting your loved one seek professional help, you may wish to gently share your concerns with them and offer to help them research different support services and treatment possibilities.
It can be very helpful for the person suffering from depression for you to help them:
-take notes regarding what they are feeling and experiencing (in preparation for their appointments)
-to make any appointments, and
-where possible, to travel to and attend any appointments with them (if they need the extra support).
It is important to remember to take any mention or sign of suicide very seriously and that often depression only worsens over time without support from a professional therapist. It is vital for your loved one, yourself and others around you that the depression sufferer seeks their preferred treatment sooner rather than later, so they can get back to enjoying a happy life as soon as possible.
Where To Receive Professional Help For Depression
- In case of emergency, call Triple Zero (000)
- If you require urgent support, call the 24/7 Beyond Blue Support Service on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline’s 24-hr Telephone Crisis Support on 13 11 14
- Visit your local doctor, who can refer you to a psychologist, psychiatrist or other qualified professional who can best give you the help you need
- Visit your local mental health clinic
- See or speak to a professional therapist at Brain Wellness Spa to help you beat depression and get back to living a joyful, healthy life