Depression is a complex condition that affects people in various ways, but those experiencing it aren’t the only ones who suffer. The patient’s immediate family members are the first ones to notice that something is wrong with them and eventually get affected by it.
A person with depression might start behaving a little differently, and there are chances their loved ones will misinterpret these unusual behaviors.
Depression is not something people can notice by just looking at someone unless you talk to them and share your feelings. Indeed, family members may also feel guilty about their loved ones’ current emotional state and may try their best to figure out ways to “fix” the problem.
There can also be a feeling of helplessness because of this. However, how family members react to symptoms of depression can have a major impact on the patient’s treatment outcomes.
Helping someone who is depressed can be challenging. But you can navigate this challenging process with a few tips. Here’s how you can help a loved one cope with depression:
Get professional help
Depression can stem from several past experiences. Moreover, patients are at an increased risk of developing bad habits and coping mechanisms to deal with their symptoms. This can be harmful to your loved one in the long run. Hence, seeking professional help is a good idea, especially if your family member turns to drugs and alcohol to get over their sadness
In extreme situations, joining a rehab facility can be quite beneficial. Rehabilitation centers such as the Florida-based Palm Beach Group offer several inpatient and outpatient treatment plans for people with severe depression and related mental health conditions.
Therapy and counseling under the supervision of mental health professionals can help your loved one identify the reasons behind their sadness and develop effective coping mechanisms to overcome them.
Educate yourself about depression and its symptoms
The more you learn about depression, the easier it will be to understand the feelings of someone experiencing it. However, that does not mean you can start diagnosing them and come up with solutions you think are good for them. Leave that to the professionals.
Learning about depression and knowing the symptoms will ensure that instead of overlooking your loved one’s confusing behavior, you will understand them and take them seriously. You will also be more aware of how to react in specific situations, allowing you to be more responsive and patient with them.
There are many good and informative resources available online that you can refer to. Reading up will help you be in a better position to look after your loved one.
Spend time with them
A person suffering from depression may experience both good and bad days. Some days they would feel like spending time with you, while on other days, they would prefer to be left alone, which is perfectly fine. In the case of the latter, you can drop them a message. But try to spend as much time as you can with them.
It might be difficult for your family member to ask for your help, but you should continue to keep a check on them to let them know you are available for them. Keep them occupied when you’re with them, but be sure they are not outside their comfort zone. You can ask them to accompany you on a walk, watch a movie or participate in an activity they previously enjoyed. But don’t force them into doing it.
It is normal for people suffering from depression to judge themselves harshly. They are often not satisfied with themselves. In situations like these, it is your responsibility as a family member to remind them of their good qualities and how much they mean to you. Positive reinforcement and appreciation can do wonders to elevate their mood.
According to brainfacts.org, depressed people have a stronger recall of bad memories. So you should try reminding them of their past achievements to boost their confidence and encourage them to keep going. Assure them that their situation will improve and that you will be there for them no matter what. Make them realize they can deal with their sadness.
Responding to them in an open and empathetic manner will make them feel as if you are genuinely trying to understand and care for them. This way, they won’t feel like they’re a burden on the family.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself
Supporting a depressed family member is not an easy task, and while you’re helping them overcome their problems, you may end up jeopardizing your well-being. You can catch on to some of the negative energy, which may affect how you perform in your daily life. Hence, you must look after yourself.
Make time for your hobbies and do what you want when you have time to spare. Set boundaries and understand your limits. Remember to eat healthy, exercise, and clock in enough sleep while ensuring your depressed loved one does the same. Take a well-deserved break to avoid burnout if need be.
There are no shortcuts to recovery, and the healing process takes a long time. It is crucial to stay by your loved one’s side and not give up on them, even if they have begun treatment, as it may take some time for them to feel better. Perseverance is essential. If you are dedicated to helping your family member, you will undoubtedly be able to provide the assistance they require.
Depression is a difficult condition to manage. Both for the person suffering and their loved ones. Remember that their situation is not hopeless. As a close family member, you can play a vital role in setting a depressed person on the path to recovery. Use the tips mentioned above to help them out. It would be best to seek professional help if matters go south. And in all this, don’t forget to look after your well-being.