Dealing with depression in a loved one can be more than frustrating. If you have a loved one suffering from this insidious and often isolating disorder, you need to know how to appropriately handle the situation. Because of it’s highly unpredictable nature, depression can reign havoc on the relationship between you and your loved one. People who have not experienced depression or dealt closely with those who have depression would not know what to do in order to help. Often, people think that someone should just be able to snap out of it. This is almost never the case. Depression is an illness, with actual anatomical or physiological effects on the brain. The truth is, helping a loved one who is dealing with depression can be a confusing and often demoralizing task.
How To Help Someone With Depression
What you need to know is that your support is very important in these situations. There are various ways through which you can support your loved ones suffering from this condition.
What most people do not understand is that their loved ones do not choose to be depressed. Therefore saying things like, “you can snap out of it, if you only go out of bed”, or “it’s not the end of the world”, will not help. Yes, they need to know that their situation can get better with help. But you’re saying that they can snap out of it implies that you think they have a choice and that they chose to be depressed. This will only isolate them further and drive them deeper into the isolation that so often accompanies depression, because they will think of themselves as weak and see you as judgemental.
Do not ignore them
Some people do not have the patience to deal with depressed people. They think that if you leave them alone for long enough then they will snap out of it. Remember, this is not a child throwing a tantrum. Depression is a real condition and those suffering from it cannot help themselves out of it. They need outside support. They need to know that you are on their side and that they can count on you to walk with them through the pain. Ignoring them is completely counter-productive.
Show them small affectionate gestures
As mentioned earlier, depression is an isolating condition. This means that your depressed loved one will possibly reject your offers to help. Remember, a depressed person can feel like the whole world is out to get them. The best you can do is show them small gestures of affection in little increments. Send them a text; go and sit by their side; cook them a meal; offer to take them to the park and so on. These little gestures may seem as every-day things to you, but to them, they are a beacon of hope. They will serve as a sign that it is NOT the entire world that has forgotten them.
One aspect of depression that may be news to you is how depression tends to ‘warp’ an individual’s brain. Depression has a toxic effect on the brain. As a result, a person’s behavior may completely change. They will quite essentially not behave within their normal spectrum. You therefore should not expect them to always be rational or reasonable. You need to be patient with your loved one. Do not reprimand what you consider to be irresponsible or childish behavior.
The best thing you can do for your loved one suffering from depression is show them love, understanding, and to get them as much help as you can. The best way to do this is to find out as much as you can about the condition. Only then will you be able to empathize with their situation.
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For more information about how to deal with depression you can read our other articles here.