Clinical depression or major depressive disorder is common to spread mental disorders.
So, you should not be surprised if you notice depressive symptoms in a close person, and find out that he/she is suffering from depression.
Seeing their condition, you probably want to help it seems impossible, though, or you have no idea what to do to help.
In this article, titled “How to help someone with depression,” we will give you some tips, which may be helpful for you to help your family member, relative, or friend, who struggles with depression.
Signs of Depression
To know if a person suffers from depression, first of all, you need to know its signs.
Here are some symptoms of depression:
- Depressed mood;
- Insomnia or hypersomnia;
- Significant weight loss in the absence of a diet or weight gain, or a decrease or increase in appetite;
- Significantly reduced interest or loss of pleasure in all or almost all of the activity;
- Decreased ability to concentrate, think, or indecision;
- Psychomotor agitation or impaired motor and mental activity;
- Feeling of worthlessness or excessive guilt;
- Fatigue or loss of energy;
- Periodic thoughts of death, repeated suicidal thoughts without a specific plan, or suicide attempts, or a specific plan for committing suicide.
To diagnose the major depressive disorder, the duration of the disorder should be at least two weeks.
Symptoms should be present most of the day, almost every day.
Tips to Help Someone With Depression
There is no single strategy to help someone with depression; however, you can find some tips below, that may be useful for you to help your close person:
Learn about depression, symptoms, and treatment options. Get informed about the consent and legal aspects of treatment in your state.
Read about disability laws as it relates to the mentally ill people.
Listen to the person with depression
Listen to your friend or relative, and let him/her share with you his/her feelings and thoughts.
However, you should know that it is possible that the person will not expect or want any advice from you: sometimes people want to talk and expect from others to listen, giving them a chance to share their thoughts and experience.
Active listening techniques can be useful for you.
Active listening is a process in which the listener not only perceives information from the interlocutor but also actively shows an understanding of the information.
Below are some techniques of active listening:
- The echo technique is the repetition of separate words or phrases of a client without any changes.
- Assent – This is the easiest way for active listening. A person uses it almost intuitively. During a conversation, it is recommended to speak with your head periodically, say yes, aha, I see, and other expressions, so that your interlocutor understands that you are listening to him/her.
- Clarification – a person, does not always describe all the details of events or experiences in a story. Ask for details, even the smallest ones.
- Pauses – it is necessary in a conversation in order to help the interlocutor to speak out to the end. Firstly, a person often needs time to formulate his/her thoughts and feelings, and secondly, pauses relieve the conversation from unnecessary and unnecessary information. For example, when telling a story, a person most likely imagines it. Moreover, in order to translate the figurative representation into a verbal story, it is necessary to choose the right words. Moreover, pauses here are a necessary means of “transforming” an image into a word.
- Paraphrasing – this is the formulation of the same thought but in other words. Rephrasing enables the talking person to see that they are being understood correctly. Moreover, if not, he/she has the opportunity to make adjustments in time. When paraphrasing, focus on the content of the message, and not on the emotions with which it is accompanied.
- The development of thought is the implementation of an attempt to pick up and advance further the course of the main idea or thought of the interlocutor.
- Reflection of feelings – expression of the emotional position of the interlocutor based on observations by listener not only for what the communicator says but also for what his body expresses.
- Summarization – this technique summarizes the basic ideas and feelings. This, as it were, is a conclusion from all that has already been said by man. The summary phrase is the speech of the interlocutor in a “minimized” form. This method of active listening is fundamentally different from paraphrasing, the essence of which is in repeating the opponent’s thoughts, but in your words (which shows the interlocutor your attention and understanding).
Talk with a close person about his/her depression
Once you make sure that the person is suffering from depression, you should honestly and openly talk to him /her about it.
If your close person does not consider his/her condition a severe problem, it will be much more difficult for him to cope with this disease.
Explain him/her that depression is a clinical disorder
Depression is a disease diagnosed by a doctor. She is treatable. Try to convince your loved one that his depression is not a fiction.
Let your close person know that you are worried about him/her. If this is your friend, do not underestimate the situation and say that he/she just had a “bad month.”
If he/she is trying to change the subject, stand your ground, and return to the conversation about his/her emotional state.
Do not be aggressive
Do not forget that your close person has an emotional problem, and he/she is currently very vulnerable.
Although it is essential to be firm in your arguments, you should not be too assertive at the initial stage.
Do not start the conversation with: “You are depressed. How can we solve this problem?”
Instead, say this: “I noticed that you have been in a bad mood lately. What do you think is happening to you?” Be patient.
Sometimes it takes time for a person to open, so wait as long as you need. Do not let him/her lose his/her temper and stop talking.
Remember that you cannot cure depression
You probably want to help your friend (or relative) as much as possible. However, there are no simple methods to solve this problem.
Explain to your friend that he/she needs the help of a specialist, and be with him/her at this difficult time.
Nevertheless, only he/she himself/herself can make the final decision.
Help the person to find support
Recommend your friend a right specialist: a psychotherapist, clinical psychologist, or a psychiatrist, and advise different types of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, or psychoanalytic therapy.
It can be useful to use the medication in combination with psychotherapy.
Do not advise the person to “pull himself/herself together.”
It is not the best solution to the problem to advise a person with depression to “pull himself/herself together.” You should avoid using the expressions:
- “Everything is in your head.”
- “We all experience difficult times.”
- “Everything will be all right with you. Do not worry.”
- “Look at things more optimistic.”
- “There are so many things in your life that are worth living for; why do you want to die?”
- “Stop pretending to be crazy.”
- “What is the matter with you?”
- “You should be better already!”
Keep in touch
Call your friend, write a cheering postcard or letter, or go visit him/her.
This will show that you are always ready to help him/her, no matter what happens. Besides, there are many other ways to keep in touch.
Encourage your friend to do something new
If your friend does something exciting, he/she will have an incentive to live, and this, at least for a while, will distract from depressive thoughts.
Although it is not necessary to advise you to go skydiving or to learn Japanese thoroughly, you should advise your friend exciting activities that can help him/her shift his/her priorities and forget about depression for a while.
Help your friend with daily tasks
Sometimes the best thing you can do is to be near and help with household issues; then, your friend will not feel alone.
Take care of yourself
If you have health problems and suffer from some mental disorder, you cannot help someone else, although you want it a lot.
So, at first, you should take care of yourself. Take care of yourself.
Feeling depressed is contagious; occasionally, take time to step back from the current situation and recharge the batteries.
Recommended books and sources
- HFNE “Major Depressive Disorder (DSM-5 Diagnosis)”
- HFNE “Supplements for Depression (13+)”
- How to Help Someone with Depression: An Essential Guide for Understanding, Living With and Helping to Support Someone with Depression
- Living with Depression: How to cope when your partner is depressed
- When Someone You Love is Depressed: How to Help Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
In this article, titled “How to help someone with depression,” we presented the signs of depression, and some tips that may be useful for you to help your close person to deal with depression.
Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.
What we recommend for Depression
If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.
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