Supporting Someone with Depression
To support someone who lives with depression can be difficult. There is a feeling of helplessness when you do not know how to help them through it. Thankfully, there are ways to offer help and it starts with noticing the signs of depression. This list is not extensive but these are key symptoms to look for, and they often happen simultaneously:
- Drastic change in appetite (loss or increase)
- Loss of interest or lack of motivation for hobbies
- Continuous low mood or sadness
- Lack of energy or constant fatigue
- Decline in personal hygiene
What can you do to help?
Please keep in mind you cannot change their state of being, you can only offer assistance. If you notice the symptoms above in your loved one there are steps you can take to help them:
Have an open mind
They will not cope, think, or manage situations in your ideal view. Remembering this is key to providing meaningful support for someone living with depression. It is okay to have expectations for your loved one, but make sure they’re realistic. Oftentimes, showing tough love is not the best option. Depressive thoughts have already given them the tough love scolding, which makes and open and understanding mind the most impactful. For those living with depression, decision making is burdensome. Having a loved one that doesn’t make a fuss over every wrong decision eases that burden a lot more than you may think.
Be a listening ear – an active listener
It is often difficult for someone with depression to share their true thoughts and feelings. While I cannot account for everyone, I can confidently say that many living with depression feel as though they have no one to confide in. Active listening to someone with depression can be very impactful. Active listening is the act of listening with the intent to understand, not waiting for your chance to respond. Offering advice seems like common courtesy, but it may come off as being judgmental. Problem solving isn’t the point when you are hearing them out. Listening with empathy is where the magic lies.
Be the light – encouragement and laughter
Negative self-talk is a common practice for those living with depression. It is helpful to acknowledge that they are in a hard spot but they will not be there forever. This statement is most effective if you follow up with real time examples that combat their current state of mind.
Laughter is also a great cure for sadness. Being able to joke and find humor in the midst of their hard times can be helpful. This will also aid in your ability to stay lighthearted. Helping loved ones through
An act of kindness
There are a lot of things I do not enjoy doing alone, like going to the grocery store. While I am not a fan of shopping, I really would love for others to tag along on that errand. I give that example to say that offering to do something with them or even for them can go a long way. But I will also say that my room is often a mess with clothes and hair products everywhere (yes I know, I need to be better). One day my mom surprisingly cleaned my room for me and I was taken to tears. A few months down the line she offered to clean it with me and that made me feel like a failure. Knowing the difference between what is helpful for them and what is not, and can be settled after one conversation.
Respect their boundaries
All the advice above is good, unless it breaches their boundaries. When you’re being kind, listening to them, and providing a safe space then you’ll hear their needs at some point. Either they will verbally share what does and does not help them, or you will pick up on that along the way. If you are unsure the best thing to do is ask. When you are respecting their boundaries you are essentially letting them know what when they share with you, you are listening.
Know that you are appreciated!
Thank you for caring so much that you’re reading about how to be helpful! To learn even more about depression, read how they can manage their depression. As you are busy being an amazing supporter, remember to always stay above water yourself. Being a confidant can be taxing at times. Make sure your needs are being met and boundaries are being respected. Lastly, leave a comment below and let me know any tips that you may use to help those you care for!