HOW TO BE HELPFUL WHEN YOUR LOVED ONE IS DEPRESSED
If you love someone who struggles with depression, you know it can be difficult to know when to reach out and when to give them space, and to understand what to say and what to leave unsaid. Here are some things to consider.
REMEMBER THAT DEPRESSION IS NOT A CHOICE
Depression is not just a bad day or a bad mood. It’s sometimes feeling sad, sometimes feeling empty, and sometimes feeling nothing at all. But it’s never a conscious decision.
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
When your loved one needs space or becomes distant, it’s not time to take stock of your relationship or wonder what you did wrong. Don’t blame yourself or try to make sense of it.
TELLING THEM IT’LL GET BETTER DOESN’T HELP
In fact, it can come across as dismissive. Try instead just to be there and let them know you believe they’re stronger than what they’re going through. Ask what you might to do to help and what they think might make them feel better.
DON’T BE OFFENDED IF THEY PUSH YOU AWAY
People who suffer from depression often worry they’re a burden on other people. If they become distant, let them know you’re still there, but don’t try to force them to talk about what’s going on unless they want to.
IT’S OKAY TO GET FRUSTRATED
Your depressed loved one needs to feel loved and supported. But if their depression is having a negative impact on your life, step back and consider how you might help while also maintaining your own sense of happiness and fulfillment.
DEPRESSED PEOPLE CAN BECOME EASILY OVERWHELMED
They can look totally fine one moment and have no energy the next. If they cancel plans suddenly, leave events early, or say “no” to activities altogether, remember it’s nothing you did. It’s just one of the side effects of living with depression.
THEY DON’T ALWAYS WANT TO DO IT ALONE
There will be times when your depressed loved one wants their space, but that doesn’t mean they want to face their fears completely alone. Offer to spend time with them once or twice a week to exercise, grocery shop, or hang out—something they can look forward to. Ask if you can cook a special weekly dinner for them or plan a weekly day or evening doing something they enjoy.
OTHER tips: You can also help your loved one with depression by:
HELPING THEM KEEP CLUTTER AT BAY
GETTING THEM OUTSIDE
ENCOURAGING THEM TO FOCUS ON SELF-CARE
GIVING THEM PERMISSION NOT TO TALK (WHEN THEY DON’T FEEL LIKE IT)
POPPING SOME PREPARED MEALS IN THEIR FREEZER FOR DAYS WHEN THEY DON’T FEEL LIKE COOKING
“IT’S OKAY TO SUGGEST PROFESSIONAL HELP. DEPRESSION AFFECTS ABOUT 17 MILLION ADULTS AND 3 MILLION ADOLESCENTS IN THE U.S. EACH YEAR. THE GOOD NEWS IS DEPRESSION IS TREATABLE! THE PASSION I HAVE IS WHY I SEE RESULTS TIME AND TIME AGAIN.” DR. REDD