Supporting someone who is depressed might be difficult. If you know someone who is depressed, you could feel helpless and uncertain of what to do. Discover how to be there for your loved one, how to be supportive and empathetic, and how to help them receive the tools they need to deal with their depression.
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 13 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.
Ways to Care for Someone with Depression
Millions of individuals, young and old, from all walks of life are afflicted by depression, a serious but treatable condition. It interferes with daily living and causes excruciating pain, hurting not just the person experiencing it but everyone around them.
You can be struggling with various challenging feelings, such as helplessness, frustration, anger, fear, guilt, and grief if someone you care about is depressed. All of these emotions are normal. Dealing with a friend or family member’s depression is not simple. And it can become too much if you don’t care for your health.
Having said that, the healing of your loved one may depend on your company and support. You may support them in managing the symptoms of their depression, overcoming their negative thoughts, and regaining their vitality, optimism, and pleasure in life.
Learn as much as you can about depression and the best ways to discuss it with a friend or member of your family. But as you do, remember to take care of your mental well-being as well; you’ll need it to provide your loved one the whole support they require.
Tips to Take Care of 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 silent 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.
10. Try to talk
Inform your friend that you are available to them. You can open the discussion by expressing your worries and posing a specific query. Active listening skills should be used to interact with your companion.
Instead of assuming you know what they mean, try asking questions to learn more. Verify their emotions. Display curiosity and empathy through your body language. It can be helpful to keep expressing your concern to your friend because they might not feel like discussing it the first time you ask.
Keep posing open inquiries and sharing your concerns without being pushy. When you can, try to talk to people in person. Try video conferencing if your homes are in separate cities.
11. Aid Them in Finding the Help They Need
Your acquaintance might not be aware that they are depressed, or they might not know how to ask for help. Even if they know that therapy can be beneficial, it might be intimidating to look for a therapist and schedule an appointment.
Offer to help your acquaintance look through potential therapists if they appear interested in counseling. Your friend may benefit from having a list of questions for prospective therapists and topics for discussion at their initial consultation.
If they are having trouble making that first appointment, encouraging and supporting them might be beneficial.
12. Push Them to Continue Therapy
Your acquaintance might not feel like leaving the house on a terrible day. Depression can sap vitality and heighten the need to isolate oneself. Motivate them to continue their therapy.
Medication is no different. Encourage your friend to speak with their psychiatrist about changing to a different antidepressant or quitting their prescription altogether if they want to stop taking their medicine because of bad side effects.
Antidepressants should not be abruptly stopped without the guidance of a medical practitioner. Usually, speaking with a medical expert before quitting pharmaceutical use can avoid health issues.
13. Take Care of Yourself Too
It can be tempting to put all other commitments on hold to support a loved one who is depressed. Although wanting to assist a friend is not bad, it’s equally crucial to consider your requirements.
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.
Treatment for depression does help with symptoms, but it can take time. Trying several different medications or therapy modalities may be necessary to find the most effective one. After beginning medication, symptoms may immediately get better for some people. Some will need more time.