Depression is a lonely disease that makes all of us feel helpless. As someone who has had depression for almost my entire life, I've written a short bit for those who wonder what they can do to help someone with depression.
We all have days when we're sad or don't want to get out of bed. This article can help with that, but what I'm really talking about is Clinical Depression, aka Major Depressive Disorder, and other forms of long term depression.
My husband and I both suffer from Clinical Depression. I've had it since childhood. It's something I'm very open about because I want help and because I want to help others if I can. (You can read more about my battle with depression here.) There's a huge amount of people in our area with depression, and a church leader recently asked me what she could to do help us. Thus, this article. Thank you for caring enough to ask, Charlene!
Here are 5 small things you can do to help someone with depression that can make a huge difference.
According the the NIMH, "depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors." So, unless you're smarter than the world's most brilliant medical minds, please don't judge.
Don't tell me what I'm doing wrong or what I need to do. Don't spout advice, we've heard it all before. Unless I trust you enough to ask for help, please don't.
Even though it influences everything I do, I am not my disease. Sometimes we fail, sometimes we do stupid things, sometimes we give up, and sometimes we excel.
3. Be there, let them know they're not alone
I can tell you from experience that when someone takes even a few minutes to sit and talk, it helps a lot. When this happens, I feel loved and feel like someone cares enough about me to see how I'm doing or just share a laugh. This also goes along with "don't judge." Instead of giving unsolicited advice, if you truly care, try to see how I'm doing. If I can tell you care, and if I trust you, I am a million times more likely to come to you for help when I'm ready to accept it.
4. Help them see from a healthier perspective
Change is one thing that therapists have regularly recommended. They've told me to rearrange furniture, switch up my schedule, spend time with friends, exercise, or just get out of the house—any positive change that will help my brain jump onto a different track and help me be able to think more objectively and feel better.
That few minutes to talk can be amazing—keep it up! But helping me get out and visit the world that extends beyond my bubble can work wonders. And it doesn't have to be a huge production.
Depression often keeps me home-bound. Even getting out to do grocery shopping can be a huge ordeal. I know when a friend is headed to the store and they invite me, it lets me know that they care enough to think of me, lets me know that they care about my needs, helps me get the necessary shopping done in a more positive way than dragging myself to the store, helps me socialize, and, as an added bonus, it helps me get some exercise!
Other ways to help people get out: Inviting us for a short walk, to run errands, to a girls' (or guys') night out, to church, to get some ice cream (ice cream works miracles ;), a playdate for our kids while we sit and hang out, etc.
5. Help give us hope
Do any or all of the above, but also, help us see the good things in our lives. Depression makes everything more dark and difficult and tends to make the bad things overshadow the good. Point out the efforts you've seen us make, the progress, and the good things that are going on. (But be genuine! If you honestly don't see anything, then don't even try this. There's no faster way to lose trust than dishonestly, and we need friends and family we can trust.) Pointing these good things out can help us see that things may not be as dire as we thought and can give hope.
Back to the the help/advice... Depression is an illness, and we need help. There are different stages, different effects, and what works for one person doesn't always work for another. Anyone with depression should seek help through a doctor or therapist. However, if I'm not ready to accept help, none of your advice or doctor referrals will help. You can only lead a horse to water...
If you truly want to help someone with depression, do these things I've mentioned. If I can tell you care, and if I trust you, I am a much more likely to come to you for help when I'm ready to accept it. But even if I don't come to you for help, doing these things will make my world a brighter place.
Read more about My Battle for Better Health here.
I want to have energy to spend time and actually do activities with my family.
I want to be able to be physically active. I’m not saying I plan on running marathons, but being able to exercise and do basic housecleaning on a daily basis would be nice.
I want my mind to feel less foggy all the time so I can do my job well and enjoy being in the profession I love.
I want to be healthy and be at a healthy weight.
I want my life back! I will look for the best in my life and realize what I truly have, always striving to make it better.
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I'm a mom in Fairfield, CA, overcoming mental illness and crazy health problems to pull my family out of poverty and live my dreams as an author.
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Medical information is based on my own beliefs and experience. Nothing on this site should be used instead of professional medical advice.
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