Clinical Depression can be a very isolating illness. Unlike depression as a normal human emotion, clinical depression is impossible to just “snap out” of and almost always requires medical intervention, such as counseling and medication. While your loved one is in the midst of a depressive episode, you and other loved ones may be left feeling confused or even in low spirits yourself. As a loved one, you might miss the way he or she used to be before the depression struck. If this is the case, I want you to know that your loved one is still the same person they were before depression took over. However, they may be waiting for an antidepressant to kick in (which can take weeks) or they may be waiting for an appointment to see a counselor or therapist. While they are in this stage, their depression may be stronger than ever.
Depression requires patience from loved ones and family. Depression can also sabotage relationships because of the isolation and despair your loved one may be feeling. For example, one of the symptoms of depression is a loss of pleasure in things once found enjoyable. This could be family outings, get-togethers and the like. Your loved one is most likely missing out on these activities. I want you to know something: it is not your fault. Never blame yourself for your loved one’s depression; as it is an illness and no one can be blamed. The main thing your loved one needs from you is emotional support. So, how do you support someone with a depressive disorder? Read on.
1. Be there
This goes along with what I said previously. If your loved one has a depressive disorder, simply be there for them. Hold their hand, tell them how much you love them and that they are not alone in this. You can offer what I call “encouraging silence” by sitting with them if they have a crying episode. This could be either in person or on the phone. People who have a depressive disorder greatly appreciate these things, as depression is incredibly isolating. It is easy to feel lonely when you are in the midst of a major depressive episode.
2. Small Gestures Go a Long Way
One thing you could do to help your loved one feel better is to send them a card. Many people greatly appreciate snail mail, as it shows them they are being thought of. In this day and age, this small act of kindness can go a long way. Another thing you could do is leave them a thoughtful, loving voicemail. People who have clinical depression often feel lonely and that no one cares about them. They really do appreciate small acts of kindness geared towards them that they might not be expecting.
3. Educate Yourself
Learn everything you can about the illness itself, including treatment options. In this situation, knowledge really is power. I have told others to do this in the past, and I often hear about how much they didn’t know about depression! For example, many don’t know clinical depression can also cause physical symptoms that do not go away such as headaches, nausea, and other bodily aches and pains. Arming yourself with knowledge about depression can help both you and your loved one in the long run.
4. Don’t Judge Them
This is a big one! If your loved one has clinical depression, your words can burn. They may seem overly “sensitive” to you during this time. So when you judge or criticize your loved one, you could very well be adding salt to the wound. Also, do not minimize their pain, or you will make their situation worse. Avoid saying things like, “You have nothing to be depressed about. You are so blessed, look at everything you do have.” Please. Again, comments such as this one will minimize their pain. It is important to remain in the present moment and forget about casting judgments. No one is perfect. Don’t knock someone when they’re already down, even if you mean well.
5. Take Them Outside
There are few things more comforting than spending a day (or even a few minutes!) out in nature. People with clinical depression often times spend much of their time indoors. This can only fuel their depression. Did you know that sunlight (vitamin D) is a natural antidepressant? If the weather permits, take your loved one out into the sun.
Sometimes, supporting someone with clinical depression can feel like walking on eggshells or a tight rope. It can require a lot of patience from the sufferer’s family and friends. When someone you love is clinically depressed your support will mean everything. Those who have depression do not want to be depressed. They have faulty neurotransmitters, and should never be blamed for having this condition. Would you blame them for having diabetes or MS? It’s the same concept.
If someone you care about has not sought help for their depression, encourage them to. Book an appointment with Core3. (888) 203-0113. We are here to help.