There are lots of things you can do to help them recover and manage their condition.
Depression is a disabling and isolating disorder that can jeopardise social relationships if not handled well. A person living with a depressed individual might feel neglected and deprived and, in response, become indifferent. With a little care and some effort, the relationship can be salvaged. Here are some steps that can be taken to extend support to a depressed person.
Be There for Them
Depression can get agonising for both the depressed individuals and their loved ones. Nonetheless, one can still provide support by active listening, offering reassurance and compassion. One can also say comforting words like, “You are not alone in this,” “We will find out a way together” or “You are so important to me.”
Show Small Loving Gestures
Attachment signs such as holding hands, patting the back or squeezing a shoulder sometimes can mean a lot. However, some people are not very comfortable with emotional expressions. They can still extend their support by packing lunch for the one who is depressed, sending them texts regularly, doing grocery shopping with them, or going for a walk together.
Avoid Judging or Criticising
Judging or criticising can puncture a person’s self-esteem. Depression is a serious mental health disorder and not the depressed person’s attempt to draw attention to themselves. Therefore, it is important that a friend or a loved one validates emotions and thoughts of the depressed person. This can encourage the person with depression to think positively and motivate them to take steps towards recovery.
Paying Attention to Their Self-care
Oftentimes, depressed people find it hard to pay attention to their self-care. They might not get out of bed the whole day, skip meals, not take shower for days, etc. This is the time when a friend or a loved one can pitch in and help the depressed person on their daily routine, or encourage them to exercise and meditate together.
Rewarding Them instead of Punishing
Threatening a depressed person by saying things like, “If you don’t take care of yourself, I’ll end this relationship,” is a merciless way of telling them that they are not valuable. Instead, one should use statements that are rewarding and encouraging, like “Oh! You are up early, shall we go for a run?” or “Wow, you cooked dinner, should I help with the dishes?”
Encouraging Them to Challenge Their Negative Thoughts
Depressed people have serious negative thinking patterns. It is important for a friend or a loved one to help them question these thoughts empirically. For example, if they say, “I’m worthless,” or “I’m horrible,” one can ask what makes them think like that. This kind of discussion should be helpful in breaking the negative patterns and altering them with the positive ones.
Depression is Curable
With the right approach, depression is a treatable condition. Even though the self-help and support systems can help in the symptom alleviation, the best results are achieved with therapy approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy combined with antidepressant medications.
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