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How to Help Depressed People

Updated on December 21, 2011

the image by creator (dan)

Helping Those Around You

How can you help? You stare at those you love and know. You watch as they go through painful emotions. You constantly think on how to help, racking your brain. Nothing your doing seems to help. They are still in that place. They still can't see your hand reaching out to them. How? How can they not see? They can't. It's not that they don't want to. It is very hard for them to see the hand reaching for them. How do you help?

First, find out what they are wanting. Sit next to them or across from them in a setting that is comfortable to the both of you. They may try to push you away or take about trivial matters. Talk about those, but do your best to communicate you want to talk about what they need. Do they need physical touch? Do they need someone to show they are thinking of them throughout the day, such as calls or small gifts hidden but easily found? Do they want someone to spend time with them? Do they need to just get out of things for a while? Do they need to hear someone say they love them? Ask these kinds of questions. Everyone sees love in a different way. It could be that no one has taken the time to find out what they need.

If they do just want to talk, only listen. This is vital. Don't try and solve the problems, at least not yet. Stay with them. No matter what may come out of their mouth. This is just what they are feeling; it may be intense. This is all from their perspective. You need to do your best not to get swept up in the tidal wave of emotion. If they bring up things from the past, don't down play it. What ever your do DO NOT down play it. It is one of the single worse things you can do. Don't shame them. Just listen and think of how it would feel to have something like that happen to you and sympathize. Wait for them to finish letting out everything. This may take a while, especially if they have bottled it up, because no one was listening. Do reach out to them on occasion and simply touch their hand if they want. Lean forward so they know you are listening. Do NOT do anything else.

Right now you are saving a life. If an EMT is saving a life, they don't do things on a computer(unless it's a medical one), they don't watch TV, they don't answer their phone or text, they only concentrate on saving that persons life. This is what you need to do. It may not seem that extreme to you, but you never know how close someone is to the edge. Even if they aren't, it will make a HUGE difference to them. It will. The only thing you need to do right now, is listen and try and make sure they feel you are.

You need to help them by validating their pain and the source. It doesn't mean by comparing, 'but this person went through the same thing and they aren't in the sate your in'. This won't help and will make them feel terrible for making such a big deal out of it. They need someone to make them feel that it is okay to be going though something like this. They need it validated by someone helping them know it's okay and they are there for them.

It doesn't mean by ignoring it. It doesn't mean by helping them minimalize it. They are only minimalizing because they don't want to bother any one, because they don't think anyone cares. This is a coping mechanism for most humans. If it is small, it isn't a problem. 'it's not that bad.' Of course it is. Why do you think they are depressed. Everyone has different limits. It may not be that bad to you, but it is for them, and you need to understand this. What you need and what they need may be different. Right now we are concentrating on them. If you need help to, try and share it with them. It can be bonding, and you both can help each other pull out of it. I am assuming you are here to help someone else at the moment, though.

A depressed person will want to stay indoors. Try and get them to go somewhere they like, not where you or someone else likes. If your thinking, well, this person liked it. Don't go. Not unless this person you are trying to help mentioned it. They very well may agree and still be miserable because they don't want to be a burden. If they suggest doing something that seems absurd, don't laugh. They have different tastes than you. It can really be painful if you laugh. It makes them feel like it isn't meaningful or of an issue to you.

Be supportive. No matter what they say or do, just be supportive. They may say some really painful things, it's just their way of making you back off, because they don't want to face this monster of theirs. They may react in anger, it's just a cover up. They may ignore you, be with them. They may start throwing things or damaging things around them. As long as it doesn't put you or themselves in danger, than it should be fine. That is a bit of a sticky one though. Try not to let it get to that point. If they are and it could be damaging, talk to them now. If you have remained silent, it may get their attention. You can hold them, they may melt and start crying. Just hold them. It may not seem like much, but it means the world to them. If it doesn't, try and get them to breath. Tell them that you understand, not everything, but that it is making them angry and hurt.

If they want you to answer or talk, then do so. If they need you to respond, don't minimalize, don't down play anything. Only say things like you understand they are in pain. That they need help.

These things can save someone's life. The only thing it takes is time. It can be hard for you to listen to their truths, as it is true for them, but try and stay calm. Concentrate on breathing. This is to help them out of their rut, so you both can work things out.


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    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Alexia....Yes, the art of "listening," is a wonderful trait for helping someone feel loved and cared for. Often, as you have discovered, it is beneficial in allowing someone who is troubled and sad, to dig deep within themselves. Your family and friends should feel blessed to have someone as compassionate as you in their lives.

    • AlexiaFox profile image

      AlexiaFox 6 years ago from Nevada

      Well, fpherj48. I do know and I do agree that the person needs therapy. I was talking about what friends and family can do to help. The therapy and drugs are for the individual and doctors to decide. These techniques can also work for those with chronic depression. Most of what it is, is listening that's all. Making them feel loved and wanted. I know these work from practical application and experience. I never once said not to schedule or do anything with the doctors. This isn't an intrusion it's asking after the welfare of the individual. I know and have studied about temporary depression and chronic. One the biggest things to help a person with depression is helping them find out what it is that is making them depressed and helping them feel love. Often the case is that the person doesn't know what they need. And in some cases drugs don't help. I'm not saying that it never does, but sometimes less invasive methods are needed.

      I do thank you for feeling comfortable enough to make a comment and for the vote up that you did. Thank you. I appreciate it.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Alecia.....I can see that you put a lot of thought and emotion into your hub. Many of your suggestions can be helpful and therapuetic to someone suffering depression, if you are referring to temporary, situational depression. This is momentary sadness or an event of hyper emotion. Hopefully you know that in cases of chronic clinical depression, it is vital that a patient has been seen by an appropriate physician and has been prescribed an anti-depressant, as well as scheduled therapy sessions with a licensed psychologist. Often, in these particular cases, the patient knows best what to do for themselves and practices a strict regimen. In cases of severe clinical depression, whether treated or not, intrusions by others can cause them to further withdraw and develop anxiety as well. Since it sounds like you know someone personally who suffers, I will surmise that you know these things. Voted your hub up and interesting. Good job.

    • Eranofu profile image

      Eranofu 6 years ago from Europe

      Thank you for the hub. Friends and family can't cure depression but they can really ease the pain (although it is a bit painful for them). A nice hub, thank you so much.