How to React With Your Loved One Suffering From Depression
First Thing's First: What is Depression?
The situation can be really tough when your loved one comes to you and tells you that they’re depressed. Depression is a mental illness that affects one in ten people, nearly 15 million adults in the United States. This illness is a disorder of the brain. The parts where the brain controls mood, thoughts, sleep and appetite are affected by depression.
Some symptoms include:
- Persistent sad, anxious feelings
- Feeling of hopelessness, guilt, helplessness
- Being irritable and restless
- Loss of interest in things you found pleasurable
- Difficulty focusing on tasks
- Changes in appetite
- Thoughts of suicide
- Body aches and pains
How to React:
- You listen. Sometimes they need someone to talk to and vent about their feelings and what they’re experiencing. Most of the time they don’t want to hear your thoughts on what they should do because to them you’re not paying attention to what their saying. Instead, just listen to them. Chime in when needed, but your silence can make a world of difference to someone who feels like they’ve lost their voice.
- You don’t try to help make them feel better because if they can’t do it, you can’t. It’s not that you can’t take them to doctor appointments or help them make dinner. It’s more like when they complain about something and you say, “Well, God has a plan.” That's not helping them. It’s only making them feel more frustrated because you don’t know how they feel, so why should they let you help them.
- Be understanding. When you dismiss their mental illness as a cry for attention, it only makes them feel worse and upset they told you in the first place. Having someone that they can go to, someone they trust, is what they need while going through treatment. When you tell them to “get over it” or “suck it up” you’re basically telling them that you don’t care.
- Don’t push them to do things they don’t want to do. Be persistent in suggesting activities, but if they don’t want to do it, then don’t push. When suffering from depression, any activity seems like a chore and doesn’t feel like something fun to do. When you’re constantly telling your loved one to go and do something, you’re creating a whirlwind of feelings and thoughts within their mind that makes them feel bad about themselves that they can’t go and sorry that they have this illness. Putting too much stress on them can cause them to have a breakdown.
- Never EVER ignore comments about suicide or self-inflictions. Please tell a doctor or their therapist if you hear them mention anything about suicide. They could be joking, but sometimes the joke turns into reality. If necessary, have them call 1-800-2730-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). They might hate you for telling on them, but they’ll learn to appreciate you.
- Be positive about their future and remind them in time they will start to feel the weight lift off their shoulders. Let them know you are their for them. Tell them how proud you are of their small successes. Keep your thoughts and your voiced thoughts positive. They’re surrounded by negativity all the time and a little bit of positivity can slowly break through.
- Don't give up. As exhausting, frustrating, and annoying they can be during their time with depression; never give up on them. If you give up, then they'll give up. Remember, they're dealing with it 24/7. They know how exhausting, frustrating, and annoying is and the last thing they need to happen is the one person they relied on giving up on them.
Anna and Toby Comic by Pablo Stanley
To sum everything up, this comic by Pablo Stanley says everything.