Watching a loved one or someone you care about struggle through something is hard, no matter what it is. It’s a natural response to want to try to fix things, but when it comes to mental health conditions, knowing when or how to help can be a tricky course to navigate. In a lot of cases, the person suffering from depression either doesn’t want or doesn’t know they need, help.
Being around someone who is pushing back on the help you’re offering can be frustrating and draining. Often their behaviour can become difficult to handle and be around, making it harder to continue providing support. But when the going gets tough, that’s when they need the help more than anything, so stick with it if you can.
Depression is a messy and complicated mental health condition and often isn’t logical and rational. The more you push, the more likely it is that the other person will withdraw or push back. Knowing how to help or when to put the pressure on is a tough call but with a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, it can help to make the whole process less intense and overwhelming.
Just remember, depression is not simple or easy- for anyone. It isn’t their choice, and it isn’t their fault. So, when they push back or test your patience, take a deep breath to regroup and keep trying. You’ll get there in the end.
How to spot someone struggling with depression
Chances are if they’re someone close to you, you’ll likely have already picked up on a few behaviour changes that might indicate they’re going through a bit of a rough patch. In order to help someone with depression, it’s important to know the signs to look out for, so that you’re ready to step in and offer a shoulder to lean on.
Depression is a slow-developing mental health condition, that steadily worsens over time. In severe cases, depression can consume a person’s entire life and make even the simplest of tasks like getting out of bed and brushing their teeth seem like a mammoth exercise. Here are a few subtle indicators to keep an eye out for that someone around you is battling with depression:
- Loss of interest in things that they used to enjoy
- Tiredness, a lack of energy or motivation
- Overeating or a loss of appetite
- Sleeping more than usual or trouble sleeping
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating on basic things
- Zoning out during conversations
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness or sadness
How to help someone with depression
I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying ‘talking is the best medicine’ by now. Quite often someone struggling with depression might just really need an outlet. Someone they can talk to who won’t judge, won’t intervene and just get some stuff off their chest. Depression is a lonely and isolating condition, so acting as a listening ear can help them feel heard and understood, and not quite so alone. You don’t even have to talk about the hard-hitting stuff. Even just a catch-up, with the option to delve a little deeper judgement free, can be enough to remind someone they aren’t weathering this storm alone.
Ask them how they are and how they feel. This might seem like a silly question given their situation, but it might give them a much-needed nudge to start opening up and getting honest with themselves and you. You might find they snap at you, but don’t take it personally. Just sit quietly and let them say what they need to say.
Ask them what they want. Again, this isn’t a silly question! You can’t force someone to do something they are dead set against, so take the opportunity to find out what they really want and find a way to work together to reach their goals.
Don’t give advice or try to fix it for them
When it’s someone you care about, the urge to try and fix the situation for them can be strong, but there is a time for giving advice and that is when they’ve asked for it. Unsolicited advice can drive a person further away, so if they haven’t asked you for your advice, try and stick to supporting them instead. At the end of the day, there is only so much you can do for them anyway, depression is an inward journey that they must overcome on their own, with the help and support from those around them. Try to avoid overcompensating or fixing the problem for them, and simply hold their hand and be there for anything they might need.
Maintain the balance
Following on from the point above, when someone is struggling to complete even the most simple tasks, it’s easy to jump in and offer to take over. This could be anything from cleaning their home or doing their shopping and cooking. Whilst it’s great to help out where you can, they might become reliant on your help and stop mustering the motivation to care for themselves all together. Instead, encourage them to keep on top of those menial tasks and be on standby to jump in if it’s really needed.
Talk to people
Supporting someone with depression can be a full-on task and a lot for someone to shoulder. Watching someone that you care about struggling with depression is a worrying, exhausting, and overwhelming, particularly as so much of the journey is out of your control. It’s just as important to make sure you’re taking care of your own mental health as much as you are taking care of theirs.
You can’t pour from an empty cup, and if you’re running on empty it can be harder than usual to maintain the patience and understanding that someone with depression needs. Prioritise your mental health by talking to someone, whether it’s a close friend or family member, or a mental health professional. Getting some things off your chest can help to lessen the burden and give you more clarity when it comes to making some tough decisions.
Download the Morale App
Boost your own mental health and support those around you by downloading the Morale app. Send out daily anonymous affirmations to people in your network, it’s a great way to help someone with depression without invading into their personal life too much. Let them know someone is there as a shoulder to lean on if and when they need it. And because giving social support does as much for our own mental health and happiness as receiving it, you’ll be boosting your own at the same time!
Interested in giving it a try? Our app is available to download from Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
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