How To Help Someone With Depression

FEATURED
February 12, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life
7 MIN READ

Top points

  • You may know someone with depression, which affects about 7.8% of adults in the US each year.
  • You can’t “fix” depression, but you can be a compassionate listener and find opportunities to offer encouraging words.
  • You can help your loved one find quality treatment and become an important part of their support system during healing.

Many of us know somebody who is battling depression. In fact, if you don’t know somebody struggling with it, you’d be in the minority. About 7.8 percent of adults in the US go through a depressive episode each year.

Watching a friend go through an experience like this can be difficult to navigate. They deserve to feel good, and it’s hard to watch a loved one struggle to experience that right. But the good news is that depression is beatable. And you can help your friend on their journey to overcome theirs.

Let’s walk through some of the things you can do to help your loved one come out on the other side stronger than ever before.

What Is Depression?

The first thing you need to do is take the time to learn more about what depression is and how it affects people. Knowledge is power, and there is a lot to learn about this mental illness.

Depression Symptoms and Signs

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, how you think, and how you act. The symptoms of depression are vast, but here are a few of the most common ones.

• Feelings of sadness
• Loss of interest in hobbies
• Changes in appetite
• Headaches
• Neglect basic hygiene
• Self-harming
• Increased fatigue
• Feeling worthlessness or guilt
• Suicidal thoughts
• Feelings of shame

If you know someone experiencing thoughts of suicide, dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

It Isn’t Personal

One of the key things to remember as a friend or family member of someone overcoming depression is that the symptoms they’re experiencing will sometimes affect you.

It may be difficult to connect with the person emotionally. They may also cancel or forget about plans they made with you. They might even lash out in anger and say hurtful things.

But it is important to remember that those are symptoms they are working to overcome. It’s not targeted at you, but rather, it’s a product of the battle they’re fighting. So it’s important to practice patience and give grace to your friend while they’re on the road to recovery.

Recognizing It

As a friend or loved one, you are often poised to be the first to recognize those warning signs in a person. It’s important to be on the lookout for the symptoms in those close to you, especially if they have a history of depression or if it runs in their family.

The main thing to look for is changes in behavior. If they start regularly talking about how tired they are, or if they seem more forgetful and absent than usual, or if you notice an increase in the use of alcohol or drugs, they might be going through this mental illness.

A Thoughtful Listener

The most important thing you can do for your loved one during this time is to be a careful and compassionate listener. It’s best to hear from them about how they are feeling and what they are going through.

Many depressed people need an outlet to express their hopelessness and other difficult emotions. As somebody close to them, you are in a prime position to do just that.

But it can be difficult to get that conversation started. It’s easy to feel like your concerns are going to offend them. So frame the conversation with questions, not statements or advice. Tell them you’ve noticed some changes in them recently, and ask them how they’re doing. Ask if something has happened in life that has brought this on.

It’s also important to remind them that depression is an illness that can be treated, not a character flaw. It’s a fight they can overcome, not a permanent state.

Don’t Be Their Therapist

One of the key things to remember in your conversation with your loved one is that you are not their therapist. Generally speaking, it is typically not helpful for you to try and provide a lot of advice.

You can’t be your loved one’s savior, and, more than likely, you cannot fix this problem for them. You also aren’t the one to blame or bear the responsibility for their happiness.

Ultimately, they will be the ones to find their own healing. That’s the only way for them to truly overcome their depression.

What You Can Do

One of the biggest helps that you can give to this person is positive reinforcement. It can be difficult for a person with depression to see the good in themselves. They tend to be overly critical of themselves and only see their flaws and mistakes.

That’s why it’s incredibly important for you to remind them of their worth, strengths, and successes. Encouragement can go a long way in supporting them, so practice it regularly! Don’t just tell them that you love them; tell them why!

Help Them Find Treatment

After talking with the person, the next step is to help them find treatment. Remember, you cannot cure their depression, but some resources and treatments can help people find healing and wholeness. Here are some of the treatment options available.

Therapy

Therapy is an essential piece of any comprehensive treatment plan for depression. Guidance from mental health professionals like a psychiatrist can help depression. There are different types of therapy out there, and they can all make a difference in helping a person overcome their negative thought patterns and replace them with positive ones.

An effective therapy for many is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). In CBT, a mental health professional helps the patient identify their own negative thought patterns and then learn healthy ways of coping with them and replacing them, thereby reducing their symptoms.

There are other kinds of talk therapy that can be very effective for treating depression, such as psychodymanic processing, psychoanalysis, and acceptance and commitment therapy. The most important thing is that you feel safe with your therapist and able to communicate freely with them.

Overall, therapy is a great way for people to open up and receive reassurance that they are not alone in their journey against depression.

Medical Treatment

For many people, additional medical treatment is needed. Traditionally, antidepressants like SSRIs and SNRIs are used. But recently, we have begun to see that these types of medication are not as effective as we thought. For up to 60 percent of people, these medications prove ineffective, and they have to turn to other methods for healing.

But there is a better option. In recent years, scientists have begun to discover the effects of ketamine on depression. This psychedelic therapy utilizes the power of glutamate in your brain to increase your neuroplasticity.

This releases the hold of the negative thought patterns in the brain and makes your brain more adaptable, so you can more easily establish positive thinking and practices in your mind.
This treatment is incredibly effective, especially for people with treatment-resistant depression. Nearly half of people who use ketamine for depression see improvements in their symptoms within the first 24 hours of treatment.

Ketamine treatment, which is the cornerstone of our programs at Nue Life, can be the difference-maker for your loved ones and help them find the healing they deserve.

Care For Your Own Needs

The final step in caring for your loved ones as they work towards healing is to care for yourself. You cannot be an effective listener or friend if you neglect your own health.

So make sure that you consider your own mental and physical wellness and take the steps you need to take to be strong for your friend or family member.

Conclusion

Helping a loved one on their journey to wholeness is a difficult task. It can be challenging to navigate and can be draining and exhausting.

But if you know helpful steps and tactics, you can be an important part of their support system. So start that conversation, be a compassionate listener, and be there for them to help them find a quality, whole-person treatment.

Depression is an illness that can be overcome. And now you have the tools you need to help someone do just that.

Sources

Depression: How effective are antidepressants? | Informed Health

Depression: Supporting a family member or friend | Mayo Clinic

Helping Someone with Depression | Help Guide

How New Ketamine Drug Helps with Depression | Yale Medicine

Major Depression | Mental Health Information | National Institute of Mental Health

What Is Depression? | American Psychiatric Association

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