What is a depression?
In order to know how to support someone who is struggling with depression, it is good to know what depression exactly is. Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects the way you think, how you act and how you feel. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities the person once enjoyed. Symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression. The intensity of the symptoms can differ from person to person.
What does a person feel who has a depression?
Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and they can be physical or psychological. The physical symptoms are trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of energy or increased fatigue, changes in appetite (weight loss or gain), feeling dizzy, palpitation or a dry mouth. The psychological symptoms are feeling worthless or guilty, anxiety or feeling sad. Thoughts of death or suicide, loss of interest in activities the person once enjoyed, restlessness, feeling irritated or slowed movements and speech. A person who suffers from a depression can have trouble with the daily routine for instance doing groceries or cleaning up their house. This can make a person more inactive and more passive. Feeling guilty is a symptom that a lot of people with depression suffer from. They can feel a big burden to their family and friends.
How can you show support?
- It’s very important to show support without judging another person. Try to do it with patience and warmth.
- It’s important to realise that the other person is in charge of their recovery. Don’t push too much because this can make the situation even worse.
- Ask how you can help the other person and what the other person needs.
- Try to be as reliable as you can be to the other person. Don’t make promises if you can’t make them happen.
- Be aware of the little steps the other person makes during their recovery. Give compliment about the positive steps he or she is taking. It’s not just about achieving the final goal.
- Try to be aware of the feelings of guilt, self-blame and having the feeling of unworthiness that a person with a depression can suffer from.
What is not helping?
- Don’t try to ‘fix’ the problem for another person, it’s not your responsibility.
- Don’t show criticisms. This can make the other person feel very insecure.
- Don’t put pressure when the person is not ready yet.
- Not keeping promises.
- Telling the other person “to snap out of it”.
Take care of yourself
It’s very understandable that you want to fix the problems of people you care about. But you can’t control someone else’s depression. You can however control how well you take care of yourself. Ask for help if you need it.
Do you know someone who is struggling with depression? Via NiceDay we treat people with depression and at the end of the treatment we prepare a relapse prevention plan together with the client. Are you interested? Download the app or ask for information via firstname.lastname@example.org