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Tune in as I discuss the Do’s and Don’ts when trying to support a loved one who is feeling depressed. I take the time to discuss information that I gathered via trusted sources as well as speak from the heart about real-life experiences. I hope that you’ll leave this episode with a better understanding of what you can and should do when supporting a loved one through their depression.
I discuss 6 Do’s and 6 Don’ts throughout this episode that I gathered from 3 different articles combined with my own life experiences. I’ve chosen to list them all out in an effort to help combine all of my gathered information into one detailed source. I hope you find it useful! 🙂
6 Don’ts When Supporting a Loved One Who is Depressed
- DON’T assume anything! – You don’t know what this person is going through, you don’t know what it feels like UNTIL you ask questions.. So instead of jumping to conclusions, I encourage you to get curious and ask questions such as “Is there anything I can do to help?” “Can you tell me more about how you’re feeling?” “How can I best support you right now?”
- DON’T belittle the situation – If your friend tells you about how they feel, take what they are saying seriously. Depression is not the same as having a low day or feeling sad. It is a debilitating condition that can affect every aspect of a person’s life. Saying things like “I know how you feel”, or “we have all been there” is not helpful. It will make your friend think that you are not taking their illness seriously. If you have never experienced depression, you do not know anything at all about how it feels. [10 Ways You Can Help a Friend with Depression]
- DON’T try to fix the situation or go into “problem-solving mode” – Recognize that supporting your friend does not mean fixing their problems. A person with depression often needs treatment to see improvement — and that’s something only a medical professional can provide. [6 Do’s and Don’ts for Supporting Someone Who Has Depression]
- DON’T try to be an expert – An overriding feeling that depressed people have is that no one understands them. So, don’t try to tell your friend how to cure their illness. Things like a healthy diet and exercise can help some people with depression. Even medication works for some and not for others. Leave the treatment of the illness to the professionals. The most important thing that you can do for a depressed friend is to be there for them. [10 Ways You Can Help a Friend with Depression]
- DON’T cast judgment or blame upon them – If someone you love is depressed and no longer able to do the activities they used to, including working or helping around the house, you may feel like they are lazy. When you get frustrated, try to remember that someone who is depressed isn’t lazy—they’re ill.5Everyday activities like cleaning the house, paying bills, or feeding the dog may seem overwhelming, if not impossible, to someone who is depressed. If your loved one’s responsibilities around the house are piling up, you may not be able to take them on yourself. [How to Help Someone With Depression]
- DON”T GIVE UP (the most important don’t!!!) – But what if your friend rejects your efforts even when you’ve done all the right things? “Their rejection may be a defense mechanism. They realize you’re recognizing their symptoms and that they’re not doing as good a job hiding them as they thought,” explains Dr. Borland. “It’s easy to react negatively to a friend who’s unwilling to get help. But stick with them and maintain communication. Continue to check in on your friend and encourage them to get help.” Dr. Borland also recommends trying to be there with your friend instead of for your friend. “It means I’m in this with you, even if you push me away,” he says. [6 Do’s and Don’ts for Supporting Someone Who Has Depression]
6 Do’s When Supporting a Loved One Who is Depressed
- DO take the time to listen – When people get depressed, they often feel very isolated. They may feel that they have no one they can talk to about their problems. You can tell anyone that you have a bad cold and you will get some sympathy. But it’s difficult for a depressed person to talk about how they are feeling. Be there for your friend and let them do the talking. Encourage them to talk about their illness, but don’t try to offer any immediate solutions. Your support is the most important thing that you have to offer. [10 Ways You Can Help a Friend with Depression]
- DO take your friend or loved one seriously – Depression is not something that someone can snap out of. You can’t fix the problem with one good night out, for example. When you are talking to someone with depression, don’t try to make light of the condition. Depression is a serious illness. You won’t be able to help a depressed person by telling them to cheer up or to pull themselves together and get over it. [10 Ways You Can Help a Friend with Depression]
- DO Keep them in the loop – A depressed person is likely to withdraw from their social circle. They may not want to socialize at all. Keep them in the loop, though. Invite them to social events, but don’t push too hard for them to attend. Inviting your friend or loved one to events will reassure them that they are not forgotten. It will remind them that their friends will still be there for them when they are ready to re engage. [10 Ways You Can Help a Friend with Depression]
- DO Show empathy – Put yourself in your friend’s shoes in a nonjudgmental way. Think about how you would feel if you were coping with symptoms of depression and how you would want friends to react. Maintain eye contact when listening, and say things like, “That sounds hard. I’m sorry you are going through this,” and “I’m always here for you.” “And if you’ve dealt with depression yourself, self-disclosure can be very powerful,” Dr. Borland points out. “You’re giving your friend a gift by opening yourself up and sharing that you understand.’” By responding to your friend in an open and empathetic way, you show them that they aren’t a burden. [6 Do’s and Don’ts for Supporting Someone Who Has Depression]
- DO be patient! – This one may be tough but understanding that you can’t fix things for your loved one and that all you can do is be there with them as they ride out their depressive episode.
- DO love them unconditionally – People who are depressed often feel a deep sense of guilt. They may believe that they are a burden to those around them. Sometimes, they even begin to feel that their loved ones would be “better off” with them.One of the ways you can combat these feelings is by regularly showing and telling them that you love them unconditionally. When you become discouraged or angry, it’s important to reassure them that you are frustrated with their illness, not them. [How to Help Someone With Depression]
- The three articles that I reference throughout this episode are as follows:
- 10 Ways You Can Help a Friend with Depression found on IntrepidMentalHealth.com
- 6 Do’s and Don’ts for Supporting Someone Who Has Depression found on Health.ClevelandClinic.org
- How to Help Someone With Depression found on VeryWellMind.com
- As promised, here are all of the phone numbers and websites for mental health help that I told you about in this episode:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services National Helpline: Call 1-800-662-4357 or Visit online
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Visit online, call 1-800-950-6264, or text NAMI to 741741
- Suicide and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline: Visit online or call/text 988 (also, save this one as a contact in your for phone for yourself and as an ally to others!)
- I took the time to find an article that backs what I said in this episode about how a healthy lifestyle can help lower depression.. Be sure to read Taking Depression Seriously: Why Healthy Living Matters that was written and published by Stanford Medicine
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Until next time friends… Take it easy, stay grateful and be joyful!
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