How To Support Someone With Depression

How To Support Someone With Depression

By Dr. Anuja Patel

Mental health issues aren’t only difficult for the person experiencing them, they can take a toll on the people and relationships surrounding them as well. It’s hard to see your partner, friend, or family member sad, unmotivated, or unable to get out of bed and cope with depression. You might even struggle to know what to do in those moments, so let’s look at some ways you can help people with depression, day to day…because let’s face it, saying things like “just get over it” or “what do you have to be unhappy about?” isn’t what a person with depression needs to hear.

  1.  Provide empathy & understanding – It’s a myth that you can’t understand something if you haven’t personally gone through it. This may seem simple and easy, and it usually is, but it may be difficult to be empathic after seeing your partner struggle living with depression for months or even years. You may not know exactly what it feels like to be depressed, but you can still have empathy for the struggles and difficult emotions it presents. Imagine what it must be like for your loved one to constantly feel unhappy, unworthy, or unable to function in the same manner as they used to. It’s also important to have compassion and empathy for yourself, because like I said, it can take a toll on you and your mental health. It’s not easy seeing your loved one in that state and it can make you feel helpless.
  2. Educate yourself – There are a lot of myths and stigma surrounding mental illness, so it’s important to learn from credible sources. If you’ve never experienced depression, you may not know how debilitating it can be. Depression can look different for everyone, so you want to know how it manifests for your loved one. Learning can include asking your loved one what they need or how you can help when they are feeling depressed.
  3. Increase activity levels – For many people struggling with depression, daily activities like showering and tasks such as exercise are challenging and can feel overwhelming. Mental health professionals often recommend people dealing with depression to engage in these activities, even if they don’t want to or it feels too hard. Having a support group or even just a supportive and encouraging person in their life can make this easier by having someone to accompany them on their walk, or remind them to take their medication. These small acts can also serve as a reminder that they have people who care and love them despite what their inner thoughts may say.
  4. Seek therapy –  Hopefully your loved one is receiving professional help to manage their depressive symptoms, but you can benefit from therapy too! It’s good to have supportive people in your life you can speak with, but therapy has its own benefits. A therapist can help you examine your self-care and coping skills to manage your stress level and maintain those important relationships.

If you want to learn more on how to support someone with depression or you need support for yourself, reach out to Dr. Anuja Patel at anujapatel.psyd@gmail.com for a free 15 minute phone consultation.