Depression can hit anyone, and each person can experience a different type of it. However, we can all agree that no matter the type or degree, depression sucks. And the worst part is, people who had it are the only ones who truly understand how painful and difficult it is.
Depression is entirely different from constant sadness or extreme disappointment. In fact, depression is more like a physical illness – only that it does not really manifest physical symptoms. However, treatments for depression does not always work like how physical illnesses are cured.
There are different ways to treat depression, but each type does not always guarantee that the patient can recover. Some could, but some won’t. Some would be okay for a while, but slip back to depression after some time.
And because it does not manifest physically, many people will misunderstood the patient’s behavior. This is very common at work. You cannot just take a sick leave for the reason of being depressed. In fact, most managers won’t care about your emotional being, they will just tag your behavior as mediocrity, tardiness, being irresponsible or unproductive.
Students with depression can also miss classes and get a failing grade from unconcerned professors. Basically, depression will not just affect the person’s emotional well-being, but it also puts their academic status and careers at risk.
Aside from that, family and close friends of people who have depression would also suffer in a way. Some of them who fail to understand the condition will misjudge or voluntarily abandon the depressed person because the negativity could be very toxic.
In worst cases, depression can lead to death. Some would commit suicide, while some would suffer from poor health because of depression.
Nowadays, more and more people actually see depression as a legitimate health problem. There is also a worldwide move to raise awareness about the condition. More and more people – especially the young ones are taught to be more patient and compassionate towards people with depression.
So if you are one of those people who want to provide support and understanding to a friend or loved one who is suffering from depression, here are 5 things to do (and not to do).
1) Don’t tell them that they are too much.
Telling a depressed person that they “are too much” will only worsen their feelings of anxiety and guilt. Of course, telling anyone that they are too much will make them feel that they are a burden, and that is worse for people with depression.
It is true that you are not responsible for anyone else’s mental health, but you don’t have to make them feel bad about it either. Instead of saying that they are too much, try to suggest that they should talk to other people (or family) too. Help them understand that they should also be seeking help from other people (or professionals).
Encouraging words are also very helpful. Keep reminding and praising them of how good they are doing each week. Be proud of them when they go the extra mile – like going out for coffee or attending motivational seminars.
2) Do not shame them for being negative.
Depressed people are usually attracted to negative thoughts and emotions, even if something good has happened to them. Most of the time, it is hard for them to believe or connect to positive thoughts and events due to the constant cloud of doubt, anxiety, fear, anger, frustrations or a mix of all of them.
When a depressed friend starts talking about negative thoughts and experiences, it can surely get toxic for you too. However, it won’t help if you would shame them for being negative either. You don’t want to come off as rude too.
The best way to deal with their negativities is to deflect them from it. Try to ask them if anything good has happened to them on that day. Give them small compliments. Tell them that their hair looks good, smells nice, or that their dress is flattering.
3) Be supportive when it comes to their health care and medication.
Seeking professional help is already a good start for a depressed person. As a friend, you should in fact encourage or praise them for seeking the help they truly deserve. However, when it comes to their medication and treatment, try not to pressure them about it.
If they feel that their current meds are not doing any good, encourage them to go seek for other alternatives. But if they also feel that they need to stop taking meds altogether, then don’t make them feel bad about it. The only time that you should intervene is when they start to inflict self-harm or become suicidal.
4) Understand that it is not just about “sadness.”
The most basic thing that you can do to support someone with depression is to understand that their condition is not just about being sad. It could also include anxiety, fatigue and irritability. So if there are times that your friend does not want to get out of bed for some reason, then you should understand that it is all part of their depression. If they are being too negative and grumpy, that’s also because of their depression.
It could be hard to deal with people who are mad and frustrating from time to time. But understanding that all these are caused by their depression will make you handle the situation better. You can try to deflect or even keep distance if the toxicity is becoming too much for you.
People with depression need validation the most. You have to make them understand that their feelings are also valid, and it is okay for them to deal with it. You have to be compassionate and very patient – especially when they are being grumpy and irritable.
At the same time, you also have to praise them when they do something different. It could be as simple as going out for coffee, or making good coffee at home. Better yet, praise them for taking care of themselves during the whole week.
Praise them for getting out of bed early, and be supportive when they try to make a good breakfast. These little things can encourage them to be more active, and it can help them deal with their depression in a healthier way.
A good support system is what a depressed person actually needs. Aside from professional help and medication, supportive, compassionate and understanding friends and family members are also instrumental to help a depressed person get back up on their feet in no time.
Jessica Radburn is a seasoned writer who excels in writing interesting articles using extensive research. She has worked with several clients across different industries such as advertising, online marketing, technology, healthcare, family matters, and more. She is also an aspiring entrepreneur who is currently engaged in a company that helps provide technological assistance through useful tips and tricks.
Find out more about her company here: https://oxfordhousetherapy.com/