Depression is a common and serious illness that negatively affects how you feel, think and act. It should not be confused with sadness or grief, though sometimes the symptoms may appear very similar. Sadness or grief is a normal part of dealing with loss. Depression is indeed an illness, and may be successfully treated in 80-90% of cases.
How You Can Help Someone with Depression
It is difficult for those who love someone who is dealing with depression. You want to help, but in many instances, the things we do are counterproductive. Below, we have assembled a few tips that might help you help your loved one.
Don’t try to “fix” them. It is one thing to listen and perhaps even acknowledge the pain expressed by someone dealing with depression. But unless you are a trained, certified counselor it is best to avoid trying to offer advice or platitudes.
It’s okay to show concern. Saying something loving to someone dealing with depression lets him or her know that you care about what is going on with them. “I’ve noticed that you seem really down recently… is something bugging you?” is a gentle way to let your loved one know that you are paying attention. They may or may not want to open up about it, but at least they know that they’re not alone.
Stay in contact. Whether in person or by phone or email, staying in contact with someone who struggles with depression lets him or her know that you still care. You can offer to do something together, or check in daily just to say hi.
Guard your own emotions. When trying to help someone dealing with depression, it can be easy to let down your own guard, emotionally. It’s important to take care of yourself before you are well equipped to take care of someone else. Much like the oxygen masks in an airplane, where you put on your own mask before helping others, make sure that you are emotionally healthy first.
Suggest counseling or medical help. In cases where depression is causing life-changing symptoms (failing school, skipping work, engaging in risky behaviors or failing relationships) it may be best to encourage professional counseling or medical intervention. The person dealing with depression may not be open to such suggestions, and it may be necessary to collaborate with others to see that help finds its way to your loved one.
Here at A New Outlook Counseling Services, we stand ready and willing to help your loved one work through his or her depression.
We have 3 locations to serve Colorado:
- Highlands Ranch-Main Office–Robert J. Johnson, SAP, MAC, LAC
- Lakewood Office– Rick Shriner, CACIII
- Cherry Creek Office– Matthew Jarvis, MA, LPC, LAC, NCC, EMDR