If you know someone who suffers from depression, you might feel confused yourself. You might be treading carefully around them to make sure that you do nothing that may upset them. Or you could have resorted to a silent approach.
Depression is a serious disorder that can sabotage relationships which is why it’s more confusing to deal with someone who suffers from it. But one should realise that being supportive can always change things. Compiled from Psych Central, here are six ways you can lend a shoulder to someone who suffers from depression.
1. Be present
Deborah Serani – a psychologist who suffers from depression herself – stated that the best thing to do for someone with depression is just to be there. She said, “When I was struggling with depression, the most healing moments came when someone I loved sat with me while I cried, or wordlessly held my hand. Or when they said things like ‘We’re going to find a way to help you to feel better’.”
2. Small gestures count
There are still many ways to lend your support if you’re someone who’s uncomfortable with emotional expression. Serani recommends small gestures like sending cards, cooking a meal or leaving a voice note. “These gestures provide a loving connection and they’re also a beacon of light that helps guide your loved one when the darkness lifts,” she added.
3. Don’t judge
What you say to someone who suffers from depression can have a very powerful impact. Serani suggests avoiding statements such as ‘I think it’s all in your head’ as it can imply that the other person has a “choice to feel a certain way” or that they’re “choosing” to be depressing. It’s not only insensitive but can distance the loved one even more.
4. Skip the tough-love approach
Many people think that being tough to a loved one will somehow undo depression or promote positive behavioural changes. Being intentionally impatient, pushing boundaries or comments like ‘You better snap out of it’ can only prove to be harmful. Serani shared that it’s like not helping someone who has cancer.
5. Avoid comparisons
Serani explained that unless you’ve suffered from depression yourself, it’s never wise to say to someone that you know how it feels. While the intention would be to help the other person, it usually does not help.
6. Learn about depression
Educating yourself about depression can be a big turning point in helping someone who suffers from it. Once you understand the symptoms and the consequences, it will be easy for you to identify and support your loved one. Serani quoted, “Someone who’s feeling hopeless might still laugh at a joke but the truth is that depressive symptoms are lingering elsewhere. It’s important to know that depression has a far and often imperceptible range.”
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