Depression is a common but serious Mental Health Condition that impacts millions of people worldwide. If someone you know is struggling with a Depressive Disorder, it is essential to provide them with the support and understanding they need. Understanding how Depressive Disorders work, what their symptoms are, and what kind of support you can provide lets you offer the care, compassion, and treatment your loved one needs. Learn more about Depressive Disorders and what you can do with this guide on how to help someone who is struggling with depression.
Learn To Recognize the Symptoms
Learning about the symptoms of a Depressive Disorder is one of the first things you can do to better understand the disorder and support your loved one. Depression symptoms can be physical, mental, and emotional. They are not always obvious, either. But keeping an eye out for the following common symptoms will help you notice the issue and take action to connect with and offer help to your loved one.
- Feeling sad, guilty, worthless, or hopeless
- Feeling numb or empty
- No longer enjoying hobbies or other activities
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Memory problems
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or oversleeping
- Headaches or muscle aches that do not have a clear source
- Irritability and frustration
- Anxiety and restlessness
Keep in mind that everyone’s experience with Depressive Disorders is different, and not every symptom needs to be present for someone to be struggling with the condition.
Understand Depression as a Disorder
To effectively support someone with a Depressive Disorder, it is vital to understand that it is a legitimate mental health condition, not a character flaw or sign of weakness. Depression is a Mental Health Disorder that results from a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. It requires and deserves professional treatment, just like any other health condition.
By recognizing depression as a disorder, you can convey to your loved one that it is not their fault and help them feel more comfortable seeking professional help.
Encouraging your loved one to seek help from a mental health professional can be one of the most significant steps towards their recovery. It is important that someone struggling with depression knows they do not need to face it alone. Support from a professional can make an enormous difference in their healing process.
Know the Signs of Worsening Depression
The road to recovery is not always straightforward; there are plenty of ups and downs along the way. That is why it is important to recognize the signs of worsening depression. Pay close attention to your loved one’s behavior and note when new symptoms arise or when current symptoms get worse.
Look for patterns of behavior—like how they follow their daily habits or how they talk about themselves—that indicate good periods or low periods. At the same time, try to keep an eye out for what triggers cause symptoms to worsen and what habits, thoughts, or activities help ease symptoms.
Take Suicide Risk Seriously
Unfortunately, people with depression have an increased risk of suicide—and worsening depression increases that risk. As a support person, it is crucial to know the warning signs of suicide and take appropriate action when needed. Here are some warning signs:
- Talking about suicide, death, or dying
- Researching or preparing for methods of suicide (e.g., online research or stockpiling medications)
- Saying goodbye to friends and family or putting their affairs in order
- Expressing a sense of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Increased use of substances
If you believe someone is at risk of suicide, it is imperative to take action. Talk openly with them about your concerns and their feelings, or seek professional help from a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Use suicide hotlines or emergency numbers if you believe your loved one is in immediate danger. In the United States, you can call or text 988 at any time to access the free, private Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Be an Open Listener
It is essential to be someone your loved one can turn to when they want to talk. When someone is struggling with a Depressive Disorder, they need someone who can genuinely listen to their thoughts and feelings without judgment. Understand when they are looking for advice and when they simply need someone who can lend a sympathetic ear. Active listening plays a critical role in helping your loved one feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, and experiences.
Provide Positive Reinforcement
Depression can bring out the most negative thoughts and emotions in a person. Individuals with Depressive Disorders often feel down on themselves, blame themselves, and have a pessimistic view of their lives. Positive reinforcement can counteract the negative voice and help your loved one remember the positive things about themselves and their lives.
Offer genuine encouragement and compliments toward their strengths and achievements. This reinforces how much they mean to you and others around them. Remind them that there is a support system in place and that their lives have value.
Help Them Follow a Routine
Depression makes it hard to keep up with routine things such as chores, hygiene, staying active, keeping a balanced diet, or staying in touch with friends and family. But a helping hand can help your loved one stay on track and take care of themselves as they work through the symptoms and challenges of their Depressive Disorder.
Encourage your loved one to maintain a regular schedule with consistent sleep, exercise, nutrition, and social activity. When necessary, offer assistance in managing daily tasks and responsibilities—such as setting up a chore schedule or meal plan. Just be careful not to take over completely, as this can lead to frustration on both sides and make it harder for your loved one to take care of themself.
Every person’s journey to recovery is unique, and it takes time. Patience is essential when helping your loved one through this difficult period. Your support and understanding will play a significant role in their healing process. It is crucial to empathize with their emotions and show them that you care at every stage of their recovery.
Help Them Stick With Treatment
Depression treatment is an ongoing process—one that requires ongoing effort and dedication. That is why one of the best ways to help someone who is struggling with a Depressive Disorder is to encourage them to keep their therapy appointments. Your encouragement helps your loved one hold themselves accountable so that they can stay on track with treatment and continue to take the steps they need to get better.
If you or a loved one is looking for a Depression Therapist in Newport Beach, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Century City, Brentwood, Westwood, Los Angeles, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar, Dana Point, Mission Viejo, or Aliso Viejo, contact Blair Wellness Group. Book your appointment and discover how Concierge-style treatment with evidence-based therapies can make a positive change for your mental health.