ItÃ•s very difficult to watch someone you love suffer with depression. You may feel completely helpless and that thereÃ•s nothing you can do to help her. But there are, in fact, a number of things you can do to offer help for a family member or friend with depression.
Learning About Depression
According to the World Health Organization, depression is one of the leading causes of disability. However, despite its prevalence, depression still remains a commonly misunderstood disorder.
Severe depression is a mental disorder characterized by abnormally low moods that last for two or more weeks and prevent an individual from functioning normally. You may find it puzzling that your family member or friend with depression canÃ•t just “buck up” and “get over” his depression. Unfortunately, depression doesnÃ•t work like that.
People with severe depression are at increased risk for suicide. If you feel that a loved one may be contemplating suicide, you can:
- Call for emergency help if you feel itÃ•s necessary
- Encourage her to talk to a counselor or call a suicide crisis hotline
- Hide firearms, medications and other potentially harmful things
- Stay with him so he wonÃ•t be left alone
- Talk to her about it.
Helping Someone with Depression: Encouraging Treatment
Sometimes, a family member or friend with depression may be unwilling to admit that sheÃ•s depressed. One way to help is to encourage her to take an online depression test. This may help bring her to the realization that she has a serious mental disorder. Then you may encourage her to make an appointment with a doctor in order to begin treatment and take the first steps towards recovery.
Helping Someone with Depression: Creating a Therapeutic Environment
An individual with depression often has difficulty carrying out basic daily tasks. You can help create a therapeutic environment by:
- Ensuring he has time to rest and relax
- Keeping things organized
- Minimizing stress
- Taking on additional tasks around the house
Helping Someone with Depression: Being Supportive
A family member or friend with depression will need all the support and encouragement you can give. You can show you care by:
- Encouraging her with regards to her person and her accomplishments (in order to counteract the feelings of worthlessness that are characteristic of depression)
- Listening when he talks about his feelings
- Making sure she knows that you want to understand how she feels
- Refraining from giving advice or making dismissive comments about his depression
- Spending quality time with her.
Helping Someone with Depression: Taking Care of Your Own Health
ItÃ•s important to look after your own health as well. Helping someone with depression can be stressful and may even can cause you to begin to feel depressed, overwhelmed or frustrated yourself. Be sure to take some time out for yourself to rest and rejuvenate.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Coping and support. Retrieved May 10, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website: www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/DS00175/DSECTION=coping-and-support.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2008). Depression: Supporting a family member or friend with depression. Retrieved May 11, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website: www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/MH00016/NSECTIONGROUP=2.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Treatment and drugs. Retrieved May 7, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website: www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/DS00175/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs.
Lundbeck Institute Staff. (n.d.). Depression Ã prevention. Retrieved May 10, 2010, from the Lundbeck Institute website: www.brainexplorer.org/depression/Depression_Prevention.shtml.
Nemade, R. et al. (n.d.). Depression: Major depression and unipolar varieties. Retrieved May 5, 2010, from the MentalHealth.net website: www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=438&cn=5.