Feeling sad or down from time to time is normal. However, if the feelings persist for more than two weeks or affect your everyday life’s functioning, it may be a sign of depression.

Depression is a prevalent condition affecting about 6% of the population worldwide. So, it is likely that you may have a partner, relative, colleague, or friend who may be depressed.

Besides, this condition develops gradually. So, a depressed individual may not realize that they may be suffering from it. It is usually the people around them that find out something is wrong and that they need help.

If you have a loved one suffering from depression, you can try the following to help them.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a common and serious medical illness that can negatively affect how you feel and think. It may cause one to withdraw socially, and they might no longer be interested in activities once loved.

It can also cause a range of physical and emotional problems, affecting your ability to function at home and work.

Fortunately, it is a treatable condition.

What Does It Look Like? -Common Signs and Symptoms

Depression can cause a range of signs and symptoms. If you notice the mentioned symptoms in someone, they may be depressed:

  • Seems to be feeling hopeless or down
  • Has lost interest in activities they once loved
  • More restless or fidgety than before
  • Has slower moments and speech
  • Has lost their appetite or is overeating
  • Feels tired
  • Sleeps more than usual or is unable to sleep
  • Has trouble concentrating

Signs of depression in the elderly include:

  • Poor hygiene
  • Poor diet
  • Neglected appearance
  • Showing little enthusiasm in receiving visitors

Helping Someone Else- Pros and Cons

Pros of helping someone with depression

  • Emotional support
  • Sense of connection
  • Trustworthiness
  • You can help when they need it
  • Sharing of experiences
  • You get to understand how the person may be feeling
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Cons of helping someone with depression

  • Dependency
  • You may experience burnout
  • Disputes

How You Can Help

Knowing about depression and understanding what one may be going through when depressed are two different entities. You can help your loved ones by being available and trying not to judge them. Here are some ways to extend your support:

Lend an Ear

Always hear them out and be available when they want to share something. If they are silent, you can initiate the conversation by asking a few questions. For instance, you can start by asking, “What’s on your mind?” It is best to understand that your loved one may just want to talk about how they feel and do not want any advice. 

You can use the following techniques while talking to them:

  • Validate their feelings
  • Show interest and sympathy through your body language
  • Ask open-ended questions

Encourage To Get Support

Your friend or relative may not know that they are depressed. Even if they know, they might not understand how they can reach out for support.

Besides, finding a therapist or taking an appointment can be a daunting task for them. You can offer to help them find a therapist. You can also help them by making them realize things they might need to talk about in their first session.

Invite Them

People with depression have a hard time reaching out to friends or keeping up with their plans. They may even feel guilty about canceling the plans. This may increase the risk of isolation, worsening depression.

You can help by inviting them even if they are likely to say no. Tell them that you understand in case they have to cancel the plan. Assure them that there is no pressure to meet until they are ready.  They should know that you will be happy to see them whenever they feel like visiting.

Be Patient

Depression is treatable, but it takes trial and error. Your loved ones may need different medications or counseling approaches before they can find out what helps them.

Despite proper treatment, their symptoms may come from time to time. So, be patient when they have their lows. And understand that depression may take a long time to recover, and your loved one will need your support.

Stay In Touch

Let your loved ones know that you are always there for them. Even if you cannot spend every day with them, just a message that “I care for you” can help. 

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Call and visit them regularly. People with depression may have difficulty in reaching out. So, you can do your best to maintain the bond.

Offer to Help with Daily Chores

With depression, even doing your daily chores can be challenging. Tasks like grocery, laundry, or paying bills may seem difficult. 

You can extend your help with anything they might need assistance with. If you notice that their fridge is empty, offer to buy groceries.

Take Care of Yourself in the Process

While helping others, it may be tempting to leave all your work and be on their side to support them. However, this may not be long-lasting. It is essential to understand that you, too, have your needs.

If you put all your energy into cheering your loved one, you may burn out and not be able to help further.

Here are some things that can help:

  • Set boundaries
  • Practice self-care
  • Dedicate time for things you love
  • Learn to say “no” when you are drained
  • Be active

Things to Avoid While Helping Someone with Depression

Do not take Things Personally

If your loved ones lash out at you or keep canceling the plans, try and understand that it is not their fault. It is the depression talking. So, do not take things on yourself.

If you are not able to take things, it is okay to take a break. But at the same time, do not blame your loved ones for it.

Do Not Advice

Depression is a severe illness that needs professional advice. It may be hard to understand how the person may be feeling. So, avoid using phrases like, “Focus on positive things” or “Try not to think about sad things.”

Your loved ones may not be in a condition to listen to your advice. So, it is better not to advise unless asked for. Just try and encourage positive behavior by cooking a healthy meal together or taking a walk.

Do Not Give Suggestions About Medications

Drugs work well for depression, but they may not work the same way for everyone. Some people avoid it due to their side effects and prefer natural treatments.

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Always remember, it is their personal choice. Do not impose anything on them. If you are not in favor of taking them, avoid the subject around them. For some people, drugs are the starting point of their treatment.

Seeking Professional Treatment

You can try your best to help someone with depression, but there may be times when they will need medical care.

Here are some signs that may indicate that your loved ones need professional help:

  • Talking about death or dying
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Personality changes
  • Indulging in risky behavior
  • Buying a weapon
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Wanting to be alone
  • Giving away treasured possessions
  • Saying goodbye more often

If they are talking about suicide, encourage them to call their therapist or do it for them. You can also take them to an emergency room.

Diagnosis

Being diagnosed with depression can be a difficult thing to digest. Offer all your love and care to your loved one who is diagnosed with depression. It is likely that they may feel, “Why me.” Try and make them understand that it can happen to anyone.

It is also a good idea to learn about depression. It may be difficult for your loved one to explain to you about depression again and again. So, try and read about it.  Understanding the common symptoms and signs of risky behavior may help you know your loved one better. It is also essential to know that depression can take various forms.

Some indications that a person may be depressed include:

  • Memory problems, confusion, or difficulty focusing
  • Irritability and anger
  • Sleep issues
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Physical symptoms such as frequent headaches, stomach distress, or muscle pain

Medication and Use

Sometimes your loved one may not feel like taking medicine or visiting the therapist. You can encourage them by supporting words. For instance, “You felt a lot better after the last session.” 

Antidepressants can have side effects, and they may feel like stopping them. Try and be patient with them. Make them understand that stopping the treatment abruptly may end up making them feel worse. You should also try and understand the signs that they may have stopped taking the medicines.

Besides, learn when they need to take which medicine when. You can visit them or call them to check if they have taken drugs.

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