How to help someone with depression
Have you ever had someone very close share with you that they are depressed? And you reacted a certain way to it or you did not know how to react? This feeling of confusion is very common and understandable, as most of us are not aware of the sensitivity one must have when dealing with someone with any mental illness. So, let’s educate ourselves today!
Depression is a very common, yet serious mental illness that negatively impacts how you feel, how you think and how you behave or act. It induces a feeling of sadness for a long period of time that may lead to loss of interest in activities that you previously loved doing. Depression may affect every aspect of your life including your physical well-being, emotional stability, social interactions and daily activities. As complicated as this illness may seem, it is very much treatable.
If someone asks for your help to deal with their depression, these are the ways you can help them:
Just listen, don’t give advice
A very common human tendency when someone shares their problem is to give advice. While it might be okay in other situations, it is a complete no-no when dealing with someone who is depressed. If a person is sharing about their depression to you, they are not asking for advice, they just want you to listen to them. So, listen to them and be empathetic – without judgments.
Validate, validate and validate! When someone tells you that they are depressed, the first thing you have to do is validate their feelings. Some validating statements can be “Yes, you are going through this. Yes, you are feeling this way.”, “This is not your fault”, “This will get better”. By doing this, you are giving them the assurance that you understand their feelings and you are not belittling or generalizing their situation.
Depression is like a cloud of negative thoughts, that induces the rainfall of sadness. To help anyone with depression, you have to try to replace the negative thoughts with positive. Remind them of their strengths and help them have a positive outlook. However, this does not mean you will hype them up unncessarily. Remind them of the positive aspects of any situation they see as negative. Remind them of the positive aspects of themselves. Positive affirmation can be game-changer for anyone with depression.
Motivate them to take professional help
It is never a bad thing to seek professional help. Just like with any physical illness, mental illness also requires professional help. Pitch in the idea of going to a therapist and motivate them to do so. If the person is overwhelmed about it, normalize the idea of therapy. One of the greatest helps you can offer is that of taking him/her to therapy. However, you must not force them to go, it must be their own choice.
Assure them that you are present
The fact that you are there for him/her throughout the process of dealing with their depression is one of the things that might help them get through. Remind them that you are just one phone call away or a text away. Keep yourself open for the person. Make them comfortable with asking for help with you whenever need be.
While professional help is the best kind of help, you can do these small, sensitive things to help someone with depression.