Supporting someone with depression is challenging and many times frustrating. If someone important in your life is struggling with depression, you may often feel confused, irritated and constantly afraid of upsetting them. You may be lost and wondering what to do next. You are not alone.
What is Depression?
Depression is a dangerous and isolating disorder, known to sabotage many relationships. Many times, symptoms of depression are invisible and linger deep within. Not knowing about these facts or how to help can make everything even more confusing.
Who Gets Depression and How Common is it?
Depression is one of the most common disorders and affects between 20-25% of women and 7-12% of men worldwide. It is the leading cause of most disabilities and diseases in the world.
Below are 9 valuable strategies to offer support and understanding, and help your loved one cope with depression. Your support is significant and can potentially save someone’s life.
How to Support Someone with Depression
1. Be there for them.
When your loved one is struggling with depression, the best thing you can do is simply be there for them. Sometimes the most healing moments come when a loved one just sits and cries with you, wordlessly holds your hand, or speaks warm positive statements like “You’re so important to me” or “Tell me if you need anything. I’ll be here”.
2. Perform small gestures.
Aside from positive words, you can show support by performing loving gestures like sending a text message, writing a card, cooking a meal or leaving a voicemail. Small gestures like these create a strong connection, and can be the light that guides your loved one out of the darkness.
3. Don’t criticize or judge.
Words can hurt people, especially for those who are more sensitive. When your loved one is suffering through depression, he or she may be extra sensitive to things you say. Avoid statements such as “It is probably all in your head” “or “If you think positively, things will get better”. Statements like these imply that what happens in life is all based on a simple choice and that your loved one has chosen, freely, to be depressed. Hearing these words, your loved one will not only become insensitive but may even isolate themselves from you.
4. Avoid giving “tough-love”.
Many individuals believe that being harsh on their loved ones will inspire positive change or may even relinquish depressive thoughts. Sometimes these people are simply voicing out their frustrations. Other people, however, intentionally become impatient, push boundaries, use silence treatments or give ultimatums (“Snap out of it soon or I’m leaving”) in an attempt to inspire change. This approach is useless, and is as harmful as ignoring or screaming at someone with cancer.
5. Don’t dismiss their pain.
Avoid statements such as “You just need to become stronger” or “Why do you let every little thing affect you”. Statements like these only shames a person with depression. It also completely disregards their difficult disorder, invalidates their feelings, and attacks their personality flaws and weaknesses.
6. Avoid giving advice.
When our loved ones are having a tough time, it’s natural to want to help. Most of the time, we try to help by offering advice. Although a person with depression needs guidance, they may feel insulted or inadequate when you give them advice. Especially advice that they already know. Instead of offering advice, try asking “What can I do to help you feel better?” Because when a person reaches out for help, they are more likely to follow directions without feeling insulted.
7. Avoid comparing their pain with yours.
Unless you have experienced an episode of depression yourself, saying things like “I know how you feel” is not going to be helpful. While your intention may be to comfort your loved one, it may have the opposite effect—minimizing their feelings and even upsetting them.
8. Learn about depression.
All the above misunderstandings and mishaps can be avoided by educating yourself about depression. By understanding all depression symptoms, causes and warning signs, you can better help your loved one. For example, many people mistakenly think that a depressed person is cured as soon as they have a good day. People who are feeling upset can still laugh at your jokes and sound cheerful. But the truth about depression symptoms is that they are often lingering deep within the person, hidden and almost impossible to see. Therefore, even if you can’t physically see depression symptoms, don’t assume too quickly and say something that may upset them.
9. Be patient with them.
Patience is an essential part of supporting your loved one. Sometimes supporting a depressed person can feel like walking on a tight rope. “How can I communicate with them?” “What can I say or not say?” “What can I do or not do?” When you feel lost, just remember that simply being beside them and asking “How can I help you?” can be a tremendous gift. When you can successfully be beside your loved one with patience, you are letting them know that no matter how long it takes, or how many treatments are involved, you will be there. This can lead to powerful results and can guide them towards their path to recovery.
Can Kratom Work for Depression?
The active ingredient in Kratom, known as mitragynine, binds to opioid receptors in the brain providing relieving effects. This property might be the reason why some Kratom users report antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects.
However, there is still very little research on the plant’s effect on mood.
One 2017 systematic review found that, for some users, Kratom enhanced mood and relieved anxiety. Also, the researchers highlighted that Kratom may have sedative effects.
More research is required to determine whether side effects such as sedation can interfere with other purported benefits such as pain relief, anti-anxiety properies, etc.
As of 2020, the U.S. FDA hasn’t approved Kratom for the treatment of depression.
Moreover, Kratom is considered a dietary supplement, and is not regulated by the FDA.