If a loved one is struggling with depression, you may be feeling confused and frustrated. It can feel like walking on eggshells. You’re afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. You don’t want to risk upsetting them even more.
Depression is an insidious illness that isolates the sufferer. It can sabotage even the closest of relationships. This can make not knowing what to do to help all the more frustrating.
Giving a loved one your support can really help them. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can do this. I’ve struggled with depression myself, and I’m going to share nine helpful strategies with you.
First up . . .
1. Just Be There
The best thing you can do to help someone suffering from depression is to just be there. For example, when I was struggling with my own depression, my Dad simply sat with me and held me while I cried. I can’t begin to describe how much that helped me.
2. Avoid Giving Advice
What you say to someone with depression can have a big impact.
It’s important to avoid saying things like:
- “Try to see the glass as half full instead of half empty”
- “It’s is all just in your head”
- Get out of bed, you’ll feel better”
Comments like these really don’t help. They imply that they have a choice in how they feel. Not only are they insensitive, but they can isolate the depressed person even more.
It probably seems natural to give advice to a loved one with depression. While it’s true that a depressed person needs guidance, you don’t have the expertise. You’re not a psychiatrist or a psychologist.
3. Don’t Pretend You Understand
Unless you’ve suffered from depression yourself, you can’t possibly know what it feels like. Saying that you understand how they feel is not helpful. They know you can’t possibly understand, and they may reject your efforts to help.
4. Don’t Trivialise Their Pain
Avoid statements like:
- “You’re too sensitive”
- “Don’t let every little thing bother you”
Comments like these will just alienate someone with depression. They trivialise the fact that they have a serious illness. Instead, they imply that it’s a weakness or a character flaw.
5. Avoid the “Tough Love” Approach
Many people believe that giving “tough love” to someone with depression will help. That it will provide a much-needed “kick up the backside”. But this is no different than using the same approach with someone who has cancer. Not helpful.
6. Learn About Depression
Getting clued up on depression is a really good idea. It will give you some insight into the illness. You will be in a better position to support someone suffering from it.
Making the effort to do this shows that you really care. That you are willing to go the extra mile to help them. As you can imagine, this will give them a much-needed boost.
7. Be Patient
Patience is essential when supporting someone with depression.
When you’re patient with a loved one with depression, you’re letting them know:
- it doesn’t matter how long it takes . . .
- . . . or how difficult the treatment . . .
- . . . or how long their recovery . . .
. . . because you’ll be there.
I’ve shared 7 strategies with you for supporting a loved with depression:
- just be there
- avoid giving advice
- don’t pretend you understand
- don’t trivialise their pain
- avoid the “tough love” approach
- learn about depression
- be patient
Supporting a loved one with depression can feel like walking a tight rope. But remember, just being there and telling them you want to help can really make a big difference. And with these 7 strategies, you can help even more.
Do you have a loved one who suffers from depression? If so, I urge you to start putting these strategies into practice as soon as you possibly can . . .