Helping Someone With Depression

I have personally uttered the ignorant words “just stop being sad” to individuals I have come across with depression, including my mom. It is disappointing yet enlightening because it gives me personal experience to be able to inform others of why NOT to tell someone “just stop being sad” and how to help someone with depression.

 “Don’t you think they have tried that?”. I have come across many clients (both in case work and therapy) whom claim their goal is to “stop being sad”; most of them have “tried everything to get better” but cannot manage to get out of bed due to depression making them a prisoner in their own home.

Depression episodes effect almost 7% of the population with less than that actually seeking treatment. Through medication, therapy, education and other supports those diagnosed with depression symptoms can get better or subside all together.

There are many reasons some individuals experience depression from trauma to death of a loved one. Some people experience depression due to their health, drugs or it is genetic. I say all of that to say that when you witness someone going through an episode it is not appropriate to belittle or ignore their symptoms.

What do these symptoms look like Jess? I am glad you asked! You may notice your friend:

  • Losing interest in activities they once did
  • having Insomnia/ Hypersomnia
  • has a improper diet
  • Lack of self-care (hygiene, cleanliness of home etc)
  • No energy or lack of concentration
  • Guilty thoughts
  • Suicidal thoughts

*this is not a comprehensive list

So Jess what do I do if I notice these symptoms? There are few things you can do to help your loved one.

1. Research more about it

Understand that they would “feel better” if they could. Researching the illness will help you understand that this is not a weakness and it can be treated. Realize that you are not a professional and that is okay! You will be limited in the amount of information you have but the most important thing you need to remember is to refer them to a professional who can help.

2. Be there

Be willing to openly communicate with them about what is happening and that you have noticed a change in behavior. Be prepared to listen! Do not give “pad answers” (as a co-worker calls them) because they can be demeaning to their current state. Instead, if you can, offer solutions that the person can apply to what they perceive the problem is.

3. Know your limitations!

Reach out to mental health professionals, other family members or whomever understands more than you do what this person is experiencing. It is also okay to seek help for yourself. If you are a caretaker, spouse, child or the like of someone with depression join support groups or seek counseling for yourself.

What are somethings you have noticed helped someone else during their crisis?