10 Best Ways You Can Support A Loved One with Depression

Support Loved One with Depression

Dealing with a depressed spouse or a loved one seems daunting especially when you don’t know how to help a loved one with depression. This article can help you learn how to support a loved one with depression.

If you want to support a depressed loved one, you will need to know a few things about depression itself and how to help effectively.

“Once you choose hope, anything is possible.” —Christopher Reeve

Depression affects people’s careers, sexuality, physical health, and emotional health. But one effect is often ignored because it resides in the periphery. Family, friends, spouses, children, and significant others are greatly influenced by their loved one’s depression. They too carry the burden of depression.

How to help a family member with depression

Treatment often only focuses on the individual, but what about those who are connected to them? What are family members and significant others supposed to do when their loved one is in emotional pain? How can they help? How can they care for themselves when caring for their loved ones?

How To Support A Loved One With Depression

Below you will find 10 steps to take when your loved one is depressed.

1. You are not enough. 

The first thing you have to realize if you truly want to help your depressed loved one is that you are not enough. The love, help, support, and care you provide for your loved is important, but it’s not enough.

This is a difficult pill to swallow, yet it can also offer some relief. You are not enough because you shouldn’t be. Your loved one’s recovery shouldn’t rest entirely on your shoulders. It has been said that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it also takes a village to help a depressed person recover.

Seek out support structures for your loved one so that you aren’t the only lifeline. Support structures can be anything: faith community, support groups, clubs, online gamer affiliations, depression forums, friends, family members, treatment groups, and mental health professionals.

You, as well, need a support structure. Don’t forget about your need for support as you support your depressed loved one.

2. Depression doesn’t define your loved one. 

Depression can mute personality. However, the change isn’t permanent. Think of depression-like turning the volume dial down on a speaker. It’s still playing the same music, but at a diminished level.

Depression struggles.
how to support a loved one with depression

People recover from depression every day and regain their energy, motivation, and most importantly, their personality. That person you once knew is still there.

“Getting better from depression demands a lifelong commitment. I’ve made that commitment for my life’s sake and for the sake of those who love me.” —Susan Polis Schutz

Read: The Difference Between Self-Pity, Depression, or Perfectly Hidden Depression

3. Remember to take care of yourself.

Taking care of or living with someone who is suffering from depression can be emotionally taxing. It is not selfish for you to take care of yourself. There is an appropriate level of emotional distance that is healthy for your well-being and for your loved one.

Too much involvement in their mental illness can be a bad thing. Also, you are showing your loved ones how to take care of themselves when you take care of yourself.

4. Have patience. 

Depending on what type of depression your loved one has, recovery will take a great deal of time. Bear in mind that recovery entails trial and error. Your loved one may try to overcome the depression and fail several times because depression compromises the motivation for healing.

Don’t compare your love to someone else who also has a mental illness and is motivated to heal and change. Without motivation for change, depression takes a long time to heal.

Therefore, have patience with your loved one and have patience with the process of healing. If they are taking medication, going to counseling, or attending a support group, allow time for these treatments to work.

5. Maintain a predictable and regular schedule. 

Depression has a way of stalling life. It is like chewing molasses; it makes life slow and arduous. This affects your loved one and it affects you as well. Acknowledge it, but take steps so it doesn’t overwhelm your life.

Problem with depression.
how to support a loved one with depression

You can still have dreams, goals, and ambitions while taking the time to be there for your loved one. In fact, when your life is built on the foundation of structure, routine, and predictability, you create a stable environment. Stability is something your loved one needs when they feel like they are emotionally spiraling down.

6. Look for vicarious symptoms.

Look for vicarious symptoms.
Supporting Someone With Depression: How To Help A Loved One With Depression

Since your loved one’s diagnosis or when they started showing signs of depression, have you noticed, in yourself, any of the following:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies, or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so that even small tasks take extra effort
  • Changes in appetite such as reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures, or blaming yourself for things that aren’t your responsibility
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, or suicide attempts
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, take notice. A caregiver can experience vicarious effects of depression. This is a hazard to empathy.

We are so closely connected with a loved one who is depressed that we can start feeling depressed ourselves. Then what good are we to our depressed loved one and to ourselves?

Make sure to be consistent with self-care and mindful of depression symptoms. Take time for yourself to recharge your batteries. You may even need to seek out a counselor.

Read: What Are The Different Types Of Depression: A Complete Guide

7. Work with mental health professionals. 

Mental Health professionals are trained in evidence-based treatments that can help those suffering from mental health disorders like depression. Counselors have expertise in depression and are effective at treating the disorder.

You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it. – Unknown

In addition to counseling, taking medication prescribed and monitored by a psychiatrist is an effective treatment. Counselors also run group therapy for depressed clients. These treatments work best in combination.

8. Be informed.

Learning as much as you can about the nature of depression can only help you and your loved one. Read, study, and research the causes of depression, symptoms, and treatments. Some of the causes may be:

  • Stressful events such as the death of a loved one, unemployment, childhood trauma, divorce, or domestic violence
  • A chronic medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer
  • Parents, siblings, or other family members with a history of depression
  • Drug or alcohol abuse

Understanding the cause can help you, as a family member or significant other, support your loved one. They may have depression that is rooted in a medical condition like hypothyroidism. If that’s the case, they need to see a doctor.

If they are depressed due to drug addiction, they may need to be checked into an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility. If the cause is stress, they may need to see a counselor to work on effective stress management strategies. Identifying the cause of depression can be helpful in its treatment.

Recognize that your loved one may not have the same goals, ambitions, drives, and passions that they had before the depression. You will need to adjust your expectations. You won’t be able to depend on them like you once did. The support, love, and affection you received from them won’t be as readily available as it once was.

Depression makes people forgetful, absentminded, and lethargic. If you send them out shopping, they may come back without some of the items you requested. In social settings, they may not be as entertaining as they once were. This is not their fault. Don’t hold it against them.

10. Maintain hope. 

The worst thing you can do is lose hope. Your loved one needs you now more than ever. They may be hopeless, but they can lean on your hope and belief.

Recovery from depression is possible; people do it every day. It takes a lot of hard work, patience, trial and error, treatment, and support, but it’s possible. The way of recovery may seem unclear but trust the process.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. – Anais nIn

These 10 suggestions are intended to equip you with knowledge, understanding, and insight into your depressed loved one. Depression may feel like it has taken your loved one away, but it hasn’t.

But you need to accept them, depression and all. Recovery is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. So, better for you to be prepared and run the marathon the best you can.

It is a very natural instinct for you to want to support your depressed loved one, and give every effort to make them overcome depression. The process might not be that easy, but isn’t that what love is? Supporting the one you love no matter what, and always wanting what is best for them.

Check out Daniel’s author page and his works on Amazon:

Written By Dan Bates, LMHC, MAML
Originally Appeared In Psychology Today

Supporting someone with depression is always a tough thing to deal with, and what makes it more difficult is the stigma attached to it. Even though things are changing and more people are taking this seriously, we still have a long way to go. However, not a lot of people know how to handle and support people going through depression, due to the lack of awareness and knowledge.

10 Best Ways You Can Support A Loved One with Depression
how to support a loved one with depression
Support Loved One with Depression pin

— About the Author —

Up Next

Philosophy And Depression: Does Studying Philosophy Make You Depressed?

Is There A Connection Between Philosophy And Depression?

Ever thought about the purpose of life? Or maybe about the nature of reality? If so, you may be curious about the fascinating realm of philosophy. However, most people believe that philosophy and depression are closely related. 

So is it true that studying philosophy makes you depressed? Can being philosophical lead to a state of existential angst and melancholy? 

For centuries, this field of philosophical study has been a source of curiosity and reflection. Whether it’s the deep thoughts of ancient Greek philosophers or contemporary philosophical musings, philosophy has molded our beliefs & understanding of the world around us and how we fit into it.

So today let us find the answer to the age old question – Does studying philosophy make you depressed? 

Up Next

Loneliness Or Solitude? 5 Social Withdrawal Symptoms And How To Overcome

Social Withdrawal Symptoms And How To Overcome

Do you ever feel like just running away from everyone and hiding in your room where no one will bother you? Do you think it is better to be alone than being around people? Excessive and persistent social withdrawal can be a serious problem and the first step to overcoming it is by identifying social withdrawal symptoms.

What is Social Withdrawal?

Social withdrawal is defined as an ongoing pattern of avoiding or reducing social interaction consistently over time. It often involves a strong preference for being alone and reduced interests in engaging in any form of social activities. 

Up Next

How Do Dogs Help with Depression: Exploring 5 Pawsitive Impacts!

How Do Dogs Help with Depression: Psychological Benefits!

The attachment that humans make with dogs goes beyond affability. To learn how do dogs help with depression is to consider not only the happiness they bring but also their deeper healing capacities for mental health

In the present fast-paced and challenging world where mental well-being is as important as physical fitness. The connection between humans and dogs is both ancient and deep. For centuries these creatures have been more than pets; they have been trusted friends, company during difficult times, unfailing love, etc.

This articl

Up Next

Symptoms Of Sleep Anxiety: 7 Alarming Signs You Need To Watch Out For!

Alarming Symptoms of Sleep Anxiety And How To Treat It

Have you ever found yourself lying in bed, struggling to sleep and feeling uneasy? Asking yourself why does anxiety keep me from sleeping? Those restless nights might be more than just a temporary problem – they could be acute symptoms of sleep anxiety.

In this article, we will try to provide a comprehensive guide on what is sleep anxiety. We will unravel the causes of your sleeping troubles and the mental health reasons that extend beyond the surface! 

Join us as we explore the connection between those nights where sleep seems to slip away and the feelings that might be more than meets the eye!

What Is Sleep Anxiety?

Up Next

Do Dogs Get Seasonal Depression? 8 Signs Winter Is Making Your Dog Depressed

Do Dogs Get Seasonal Depression? Signs Of Winter Blues

Is your pooch feeling a bit gloomy during this winter season? Are cold days, long nights and a lack of walks making your dog feel the winter blues? But do dogs get seasonal depression?

Although there isn’t any evidence that dogs can develop seasonal depression, your furry friend can experience their own variation of winter blues which can affect their mood and emotions. 

Similar to humans, the changing of seasons can significantly affect the mood and behavior of dogs and the condition can be very similar to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression.

So let us explore the phenomenon of seasonal depression in dogs and identify the signs & causes and understand what you can do to help your four-legged friend.

Up Next

Do Dogs Get Depressed? 9 Hidden Signs Of Canine Depression You Must Know About

Do Dogs Get Depressed? Signs Your Dog Is Unhappy

There is no doubt that our dogs make us happy. They take away our stress, anxiety and sadness and immediately replace it with lots of smiles, boops and love. But is your doggo happy? Do dogs get depressed? Is your furry friend holding on to unhappiness and sadness in their heart?

Just like humans, dogs can also experience periods of sadness and depression. Even if they can’t communicate it openly, they do feel the blues and there are certain behavioral signs that can help you identify if you have a sad doggo or a happy one. 

Today, let us explore if dogs get depressed, why do dogs get depressed, the signs of a sad dog and what you can do to help an unhappy dog. So let’s dig in.

Do Dogs Get Depressed?

Up Next

The Shocking Truth About How Stress Triggers Vertigo and Proven Tips for Self-Relief

Can Stress Cause Vertigo? Identify The Triggers And Vital Relief Tips!

We all deal with stress, but did you know it can do more than just mess with your mood? It can even make you feel dizzy and can even disorient you!

Vertigo isn’t just a simple dizziness; it’s a disorder that messes with our balance. It creates a feeling of movement even when none is happening. People with vertigo often describe it as feeling like the world is spinning around them. 

Now, imagine dealing with the usual stress on top of that!

In this article, we’ll dig into how can stress cause vertigo and explore simple ways to find relief. Whether it’s quick tips for immediate relief or strategies for handling stress in the long run, we’re here to help you regain your balance, even when life feels like a constant spin.

So join us as we explore the t