How to Help When Someone You Love is Suffering From Depression

When a loved one experiences depression, it can cause you to feel helpless and frustrated. You may not know where to turn, what to say, or how to help them. Believe it or not, you aren’t as powerless as you may think. Here are a few ways that you can help when someone you love is suffering from depression.

How to Tell If Someone You Love Is Suffering From Depression

Suffering From Depression1. Communicate without judgment or pressure. Your loved one is probably having a difficult time getting out of bed each morning, let alone performing well at work and around the house. It is important that your interactions do not come across as judgmental, guilt-inducing, or pressuring. Hygiene and self-care may suffer; pitch in to wash a sink full of dishes, or offer to help the person wash his or her hair. If your spouse is depressed and you need some extra help with household responsibilities, get some temporary help with cleaning or childcare. No matter what you do, don’t make a big deal out of it.

2. Do not say things like, “cheer up already,” or “it isn’t really so bad.” While things may seem this way from your point of view, depression causes feelings of extreme despair and hopelessness that are impossible to snap out of. Suggesting that your loved one’s feelings aren’t valid or real will only make him or her feel worse, and it may cause him or her to push you away.

3. Learn what you can about depression. If you are unsure of the symptoms of depression are don’t know what experiencing it is like, doing a bit of research can help you see things from your loved one’s perspective. It can also help you steer the person toward appropriate help if he or she asks for it.

4. Consistently reassure the person that you are there if he or she needs you. Many people with depression do not seek help, because they fear that they are burdening their friends and family members. Continually reminding the person of your presence and checking in often lets the person see that you truly mean it, and s/he may be more willing to open up or allow you to help him/her seek treatment.

5. Do not make seeking help into an embarrassing experience. Your loved one may be concerned about the stigma of seeing a counselor or therapist or taking anti-depressant medication. Be supportive and reassuring if they wish to take such steps. If s/he does not want anyone else to know, be respectful of that.

6. Do not hesitate to seek immediate help if you think the person might harm himself or herself or others. Call 911 or drive the person to the emergency room if you must. If you have a difficult time contacting your loved one or you fear for his/her safety, you can ask the police to perform a welfare check. Your loved one may be extremely upset with you–but you could very well save his or her life.

Depression is a serious yet common illness, and seeing a loved one suffering from depression can be very difficult. Offer a listening ear and a supportive shoulder, and gently encourage him or her to get help from a medical professional.