On average, around 280 million people globally battle from depression. Seeing your loved one battling through it or suspecting them of going through depression can put you in an emotionally vulnerable situation where you may feel helpless, overwhelmed, or frustrated.
However, if you suspect your loved one is silently battling depression, know that you are not alone and there is a way to help them. One of the primary steps you can do to help them is to educate yourself more about what is depression and its effects.
We understand how difficult it is to come out of a dark place, and worse, seeing your loved ones is fighting for their lives in their head can make you feel helpless. Therefore, in this post, we decided to narrow down all the ways you can help someone with depression without making things vulnerable for them.
Continue reading till the end to know how to help someone battling depression!
Understanding The Difference Between Depression and Sadness
Sadness and depression go hand in hand but have a vast difference. Understanding the difference between depression and sadness will allow you to analyse your loved one better. Throughout our lives, sadness is experienced by every person.
Whether it is a bad day at school or work or someone's behaviour, sadness is a natural human emotion that a person goes through. A sad person will eventually feel better after crying, venting their feelings, or being alone for a few hours of listening to music.While sadness contributes towards a bad or low mood, it usually passes away on its own within hours or a couple of days. However, if the feeling of sadness does not pass away within a week or two and the person is unable to resume their day-to-day activities, it may indicate a sign of depression.
On the other hand, clinical depression or depression is a mental illness that affects a person negatively. Many of us are unaware of the severity of the condition that it follows. A person can experience depression at any point in their life, irrespective of their age or gender.
In simple words, if you are rich and have everything, you cannot be depressed. However, to debunk this myth, we would conclude that a person can experience this mental condition irrespective of their financial status, marital status, or privileges.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression can come in various forms. If one person experiences a particular symptom, it is not evident that the other person going through depression will also experience the same.
Therefore, before you look for ways to help someone with depression, educate yourself about the symptoms of depression so that you can help your loved one better and understand their minor or major depressive disorder.
- The person is irritable more often and gets sad more than usual.
- They are withdrawing themselves socially and talk about feeling constantly sad.
- Lack of energy or motivation to do things.
- Talks about feeling sad, down, unmotivated, worthless, or feelings of emptiness often.
- Lack of sleep or sleeping more than usual.
- The person is excessively eating or stops eating at all.
- The person has a lack of interest in hygiene, such as bathing or brushing.
- They lack interest in their hobbies or day-to-day activities.
- They talk about suicide or death.
- Fatigue or weakness.
Ways to Help Someone Dealing With Depression
So far, we have learned the definition of depression, depression symptoms, and the difference between depression and sadness. However, one of the common issues that we face in our day-to-day lives is the feeling of helplessness when our close one is in depression.
Despite the challenges that your close one faces, it is evident that they won't share all the details about how they are feeling with you. One of the prime reasons behind this is that they may feel like they are bothering you, or you won't understand what they are trying to convey.
Seeing your closed one in depression can take a toll on you, but there are multiple ways how you can help them without making them feel guilty about it or making it worse for them.
Here are a few ways to help people with depression feel heard and make things easier for them.
1. Listen Without Giving Your Opinion on Their Feelings
When a person is battling depression alone, they have hundreds of thoughts running in the back of their heads. It may be their past trauma, something they cannot let go of, or someone's behaviour that makes them feel the way they are feeling. In such cases, a person needs someone they can share their feelings with without feeling that someone else is judging them.
Of course, sometimes you may feel that the person is stressing about a specific situation more than they should, but saying things like "you are overthinking," "you are overreacting," or even "someone else has it worse," will make the person feel overwhelmed with your opinions and thoughts on their feelings.
Additionally, making them feel heard and listening to them without making them feel guilty about their feelings will help the person feel safe and know that you care about their feelings. A minor step to hear their thoughts and feelings without judging them can go a long way to help them.
2. Encourage Them to Get Support For Their Depression
Many people neglect depression unless it becomes severe. One of the common mentalities that avoid people taking depression seriously is because it does not appear as severe as problems related to physical health. In fact, mental health problems can be equally intense as a severe medical condition.
Once you recognize the symptoms of depression in your loved ones, encourage them to get support. Most of the time, the person will be battling depression alone without realizing that support can help them come out of it.
Do your research online, read reviews of the therapist, and make an appointment on the depressed person's behalf to help them get the support they need.
3. Help Them With Their Daily Activities
Depression can take various forms on the depressed person. It is unnecessary that if someone is depressed, they will be 100% inactive or lousy. The depression symptoms may vary from one person to another.
When a person is going through depression, they will often be weighted due to their thoughts, making it difficult to continue their day-to-day activity. As a friend or a close one, you can help them by offering help to perform their daily tasks, including assisting them in running errands, cooking, work, and more.
Instead of directly jumping to conclusions, you may consider asking, "what do you need help with today?" Many people say, "let me know if there is anything that I can help you with," without understanding that these words can make the depressed person feel guilty or make them feel like you are doing a favour on them.
In many cases, the person will even refuse to take your help even if you are genuinely offering them support. Remember, your words and tone while saying things play a vital role in conveying your message.
4. Avoid Trying to 'Fix' Their Depression
Depression is a mental health condition that can change the world upside down for the person. No matter how much you love the person and how much it hurts to see them in this position, you cannot 'fix' them without professional help.
Know that your words can be a weapon against their mind, and watch out what you speak to them. Some of the sentences that you can avoid saying to someone struggling with depression are:
- Stop thinking about sad things. You are fine.
- Instead of being sad about something, you should be grateful for what you have.
5. Avoid Taking Things Personally
Mood changes are one of the common symptoms of depression. The Depression of your loved one is not your fault, nor is it theirs. Depression is not anyone's fault, nor does it come invited.
The person often lashes out in anger or frustration, says things in anger that they do not mean, or even pushes you away to be left alone. It would be in your best interest to not take these things personally and blame your depressed friend for the same.
Instead of pointing out their behaviour or getting angry at them for their behaviour, consider being patient. Of course, you may feel emotionally drained and might need space from the person.
Remember, it is okay to take a break or feel emotionally drained from their behaviour, but avoid pointing it out and contribute more to their negative thoughts.
6. Stay in Touch Constantly
In an era where we all are busy with our work and personal lives, staying in touch with someone all the time can be difficult. However, when you genuinely care for someone and want to help them escape their depression, you should consider staying in touch with them.
Even if you cannot talk to them the entire day, dropping a text or mail about telling them if they are okay and how they are doing will make them feel cared for. A person battling depression needs people around them to make them feel loved and cared for.
Take out 2 minutes of your time and drop a text message, "Hey! I'm at work, and I was wondering how are you doing?" or you can text, "How are you feeling? Would you like to share something that you want to? I'm all ears!" While it may not sound like a big deal to you, it will help them feel appreciated and cared for.
7. Look Out For Any Severe IndicationsDepression can trigger suicidal or self-harm thoughts. Therefore, it would be helpful to recognize these signs and know when it's high time to intervene. Depression is one of the most severe mental conditions that can push a person's suicidal instinct. As per WHO, over 700,000 people die due to suicide every year.
A few signs indicating your friend is having suicidal thoughts or opting for self-harm include:
- They are pushing people away and always want to be alone.
- They withdraw themselves socially.
- They constantly fantasize or talk about death or suicide.
- You notice them wearing full sleeves in summer.
- The person is giving away their belongings without a valid reason.
- They have constant mood changes.
- They are relying more on substance abuse.
- They indulge in risky or dangerous behaviour.
Often, your friend will not talk about their suicidal thoughts in front of you, thinking you are not going to take it seriously, or it may indicate that they are seeking attention. As a friend, you can talk to them if they have opted for unhealthy coping mechanisms (such as substance abuse or self-harm). If yes, ask them how you can help them eliminate these thoughts or things you can do that will help them feel better.
Fighting with depression is an extremely emotionally and physically draining condition. It can put the person in an emotionally vulnerable position. Additionally, the people around them can be dragged and feel equally challenging to help those with depression.
We hope this article helped you figure out how to help someone with depression! If you have any suggestions or ways to help a depressed person, let us know in the comments section!