Occasionally, a lot of us feel ‘sad’ or have the ‘blues’ for no reason. While having a bad mood is quite common, some people may have negative emotions or long-lasting mood patterns characterized by intense sadness.

Such individuals might feel discouraged, may lose interest in daily activities, experience appetite change and might even feel suicidal, with no inspiration to live their lives. These people may suffer from depression.

According to WHO, Depression, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed is a comorbid psychological condition that affects over 350 million people around the world. It can have a cause or might manifest without one. The staggering statistics also indicate that over 60% people who try committing suicide have depression or another mood disorder.

So, it’s very likely that you might come across an individual who suffers from depression.
Loving someone with depression can be an incredibly tough challenge. You may feel helplessness and might wonder what to do.

What you have to understand is that helping a depressed person requires more than support and encouragement. However, you can play a necessary role in their recovery. At the same time, there are so many things that you can do to make them feel better.

How to help a depressed person?

If you love someone with depression or other neurotic disorders like anxiety, these are the things you can do to help in their recovery.

Understanding the symptoms

We all notice it when someone we love is more irritable than before, or when a friend feels sadder for a longer duration. While we do observe the behavior of our loved ones, it is important that we understand the symptoms of depression to help an individual. These symptoms can vary, but includes,

  • Bouts of loneliness, intense sadness, hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, sudden irritability or frustration at trivial matters
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Lack of energy
  • Sudden changes in appetite
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities, including sports, hobbies or sex
  • Feeling of anxiety and restless
  • Slowed thinking
  • Reduced body movements
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Trouble thinking and concentrating
  • Fixating on past failures
  • Frequent mentions of death
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Unexplained physical symptoms like pains and aches

These symptoms differ from one individual to the other, but most often they are noticeable enough to impact daily activities. They can stem without a reason or may have a cause behind them- like the death of a spouse, migration, failure, etc.

It is necessary to know that children have different symptoms for depression, and their sadness or irritability shouldn’t be confused with the disorder. Consider contacting a psychologist if you are concerned about your teen’s mood and behavior.

Realize that treatment is the key

Encouraging diagnosis and treatment are essential to help someone with depression. You have to understand that supporting someone, or talking to someone you love will not ‘cure’ their depression and treatment, with or without the medications is the key to getting their mood problems sorted. So, as a family member, you have to consider if your loved one with depression may require treatment. So basically,

  • Depression is a serious condition that shouldn’t underestimate
  • It drains an individual’s energy and optimism, affects their motivation
  • The symptoms may result in anxiety and lash out in anger. Loving someone with depression and anxiety can be difficult, but you have to understand that they don’t mean those hurtful things
  • Covering the problem or hiding the issue won’t resolve it
  • Depression cannot be fixed- it should be treated with love, respect, compassion, and support

Talking to your loved one about depression

Now that you understand depression and realize that treatment is the key, you need to talk to your loved about their symptoms and its possible treatment. Sometimes, this can be hard. People with depression can feel insulted, ignore your concerns, may get angry or lash out when you raise the issue. So, if you are uncertain of how to start, try these tips,

  • Start a conversation by informing your loved one about how you feel concerned about them
  • Inform them about the differences you have noticed in their behavior
  • Inquire why they seem sad or upset lately
  • Ask them how they can be supported
  • Question them about how they began to feel this
  • Request their opinion on the idea of getting help

Remember, you have to be supportive and offer encouragement and hope. Sometimes, this will require talking about the issue over and over again till the person agrees to get help.

Avoid saying offensive things

Loving someone with depression can be quite challenging and you will have to think twice before saying something. When you encounter someone with depression, avoid saying things like,

  • Sadness is in your head
  • We all go through tough times
  • I cannot help you
  • Snap out of that hopeless
  • There is so much to live life
  • What the hell is wrong with you?
  • Look at the brighter side of life
  • You will get better if you take it out of your mind

It’s not a choice

Anyone can break his or her leg. Right? It is not their choice! Similarly, depression is a psychological condition, and it’s not a choice. It is one of the most helpless situations to be in. It goes beyond a bad day or a bad mood. No one chooses depression.

They can get overwhelmed- But it’s not about you

People with depression may feel constantly exhausted. Going around and about their day may appear overwhelming for them. They may feel excruciatingly tired and might cancel plans. At the same time, their overwhelming emotions may lead to fights, arguments and issues within your relationships. However, understand that their feelings are general, and they aren’t about you.

Avoid ‘tough-love’

Now that you know how difficult it is to deal with depression understand that the ‘tough-love’ approach or giving ultimatums may not work. This will not magically cure their illness. Your tough love cannot heal a cold, and it certainly cannot cure depression!

Spend time together

Realize that just because they suffer from depression doesn’t mean that they are ‘weak.’ At the same time, give them time to get normal. The best way to do this is to spend time with them. You can cook dinner together, go on dates or watch movies. Prompt them to participate in these activities even if they don’t feel like doing it.

Also Read: Why Gardening Is Good For Health?

You are allowed to get frustrated

Depression not just impacts the individual who’s suffering from it- it even affects those around it. Depression drains energy and therefore, it might make you frustrated and create a negative impact on your life. So, if you are wondering about how to love depressed people, you have to realize the need to establish boundaries.

You need to step out of situations where you might feel frustrated and maintain your happiness or sense of fulfillment. To take care of yourself, do following things,

  • Speak up for yourself and have an honest conversation with the one you love. Don’t suffer in silence about the negative emotions that you may be experiencing
  • Set personal boundaries to avoid burnout in a relationship. Have clear limits of what you can and cannot do. Of course, you are not a therapist yourself. Therefore, you shouldn’t take the entire responsibility
  • It is true that you will face some unavoidable changes when someone you love suffers from depression. However, still, you should stay on track with your life. That’s very essential
  • Seek support, if needed. You can confide in trusted friends, talk to a counselor or join a support group

Do these simple things

There are some simple things that you when you love someone with depression

  • Understand that they are strong in character
  • Reach out to them in unexpected ways
  • Realize that they aren’t defective
  • Provide them support
  • Have opportunities to interact
  • Be sensitive to their feelings
  • Respect them
  • Nurture their talents
  • Know that they are fully capable of giving and receiving love, they just need constant encouragement

Supporting the Journey

Give unconditional support throughout the treatment process. Here are some ideas you can do to handle the situation,

  • Have realistic expectations. Know that even with depression treatment, recovery won’t happen overnight
  • Lead by example and encourage your friend to live a healthy lifestyle. This boosts depression recovery
  • Encourage activity with the friend, including exercising, going to restaurants, etc.
  • Pitch in and be of support with simple small tasks whenever possible

All these things will boost their self-esteem. Remember to contact a psychotherapist, a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist for medical support for the condition.