Helping When Someone is Depressed
Depression is hard on relationships. 17 million Americans a year suffer from depression. It is usually ranked number one for mental health issues. It's also a major cause of difficulties in a couple. A depressed partner withdraws, gets irritable, may "use", do other things or leave. Recognizing depression and not other issue can be complex. Sexual intimacy is affected things can also be difficult for a relationship. Unfortunately, anti-depressants aren't for everyone or may negatively affect sexual function.
Below are ways to help depression and be helpful to the depressed person:
- Make a way for communication to occur. A time and space (often not facing each other works Better) to talk without interruption makes the conversation go better. Having information about what the depressed person thinks and feels helps to if you are encouraging them to seek professional help.
- Listen with an open mind. You probably have heard it all before. Hearing it with a "new" mind, nonjudgmentally and with empathy will help the person the most. (Empathy means you listen but does not mean you agree with their view.)
- Encourage them to take positive actions. Self-care and responsibility is mood building for the depressed person. Getting started is hard because they will not feel like it. Yet if they are "helped" too much it actually lowers their self-esteem. Procrastination is common with depression as people are fearful of failing and often are perfectionistics. Keep up the encouragement so that they can remember the small changes that happen and build.
- Social contact really is an antidote to depression. When we hears other people’s views, thoughts, and their activities we have the potential to gain new ways of thinking. Having a different perspective means negative assumptions can be identified and questioned. (Being aware of your thought process and “talking back” well is one technique of therapy.)
Helping someone you care about can really make a difference long-term and throughout all the lives involved. Never ignore any expression of suicide. (If you have immediate concerns call 911 or take them to an emergency room.)
Depression is treatable by a doctor or counselor, preferably both. In many cases, depression caught early enough does not have to mean the person takes medication. And if they will not receive counseling you can learn about depression so that you do not “catch” it and can carry out the above actions.