Depression seems prevalent in our world today. Statistics show:
- More than 1.5 million cases of depression are recorded per year in Nigeria.
- Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults, or about 7.1% of the U.S. population.
- 300 million people around the world have depression, according to the World Health Organization.
However, the good news is you don’t have to be an erudite in mental health to assist in the treatment of one who is depressed. Here are 5 way to help someone with depression.
5 Ways To Support Someone With Depression
1. Be There
Really, treating depression isn’t much of a big deal. Deborah Serani, PsyD, a psychologist who’s struggled with depression herself comments: “The best thing you can do for someone who is depressed is to be there.” When depression comes, all that’s needed is the presence of another who’s willing to give help and emotional support.
A simple definition of depression states: Depression is a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity. The feeling of inadequacy that occurs due to a situation in one’s life can be counterbalanced by the presence of one showing support and love at the time of need.
Your presence is more valuable than you think. Furthermore, it’s rare for a person to commit suicide when there’s a person close by. Those who commit suicide always have a desire to withdraw themselves from social contact and also want to be left by themselves. Being around will hinder them from making such move.
2. Watch Your Words
It’s been rightly said that being there for someone that’s fighting depression is very important. However, this could turn out to be counteractive if you don’t act discreet and tactful. In essence, watch your words!
Be careful to not say things such as:
- Suck it up and be a man (This is especially said to men. Saying this makes it seem shameful for a man to feel or express emotions. That’s not true.)
- You better snap out of it or I’m going to leave (You make them feel they can just snap their finger and immediately feel better; that’s impossible.)
- You caused it (It doesn’t matter if this is true; it’s not the best time to mention it.)
- I’d handle this much better if I were in your shoes (This increases their sense of inadequacy and hopelessness.)
3. Be a Compassionate Listener
Being a good listener is one of the most important and enchanting life skill anyone can have. One of the sign of being a good listener is that you have a friendly suspicion that makes you urge for clarification as opposed to trying to give advice and hastily proffer solutions. This attitude of wanting to say something wise and bombastic isn’t the best approach when dealing with a depressed person.
Encourage them to elaborate. Tell them, “go on; how do you mean; tell me more; what can we do about this.” Let them speak their minds, and then you can really have a grasp of what’s happening to them. Furthermore, they feel connected to on an emotional level when they see your sincere desire to know what’s happening with them. Listening helps them experience pleasure because it signals sympathy and compassion, which is something they highly require to heal. On the other hand, being reluctant to hear them is both disgusting and debilitating.
4. Be Patient
Being patient with a depressed person is 2 parts:
- Patience in handling their rudeness: Depressed people are more inclined to say hurtful things and lash out in anger. This bad-mannered attitude might continue for a while, hence you mustn’t use that as an excuse to leave them or reply with a sharper retort. Remember, it’s most difficult to have a good attitude when you’re depressed. And, it’s the depression that’s talking, not them.
- Patience in waiting for them to get better: It might be frustrating to watch a depressed friend or family member struggle, especially if progress is slow or stalled. Having patience is very important. Remember, recovery from depression doesn’t happen overnight.
5. Encourage Them to Get Help
In any given year, nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. suffer from a mental illness, yet fewer than half of those suffering receive treatment.
People with depression seldom gets better without treatment and may even get worse. According to Mayo Clinic, one of the main sign of depression is frequent or recurrent mention of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide. But this can be kept off if early treatment is administered.
People with depression may not recognize or acknowledge that they’re depressed. Sometimes, they feel ashamed to admit their depression and they feel they should be able to overcome it with willpower alone. Suggest seeking help from a professional – a medical doctor or a mental health provider, such as a licensed counselor or a psychologist.
Sometimes, supporting someone with depression may feel like you’re walking on a tightrope. It can be a complicated and overwhelming task. What do I do? What do I not say? What do I not do? But remember that just being there and asking how you can help can be an incredible gift.