Depression is a spectrum, it’s not one thing or another, and it’s definitely not black and white. Every single individual that deals with depression on a daily basis is going through something different. No two depressive mood disorders are the same.
When someone is going through a depression swing, they often experience a lower tolerance for activity, loss of interest, changing sleeping patterns, weight fluctuation, loss of focus, or feeling suicidal.
When you yourself haven’t experienced depression in your own way, it can be very difficult to figure out a way you can helpfully approach someone you deeply care about who’s going through this issue in their life. You may risk coming off as a know-it-all or even judgmental, simply because you haven’t educated yourself on the subject.
While you won’t be able to cure depression in anyone, there are specific ways you can offer needed support to that loved one in your life without stepping on their toes when it comes to their unique depression.
How to deal with Depression
First, before we go over what you need to know to offer support, you should be aware of what depression really is.
There are many different kinds of depressive disorders, most commonly there are:
- Perinatal Depression: Experienced in women who have recently given birth.
- Dysthymia: The typical depression that many individuals fade in and out throughout their life, it has no specific cause.
- Seasonal Depression: Generally experienced in the winter months.
- Bipolar Disorder: Being bipolar doesn’t always mean you experience depression, but it often is related.
1. Don’t Be Judgmental
Depression is a disorder that often comes with many taxing side effects for many individuals. In addition to the number of side effects, there are certain triggers to be aware of, especially if a loved one is depressed because of a recent stressful event in their life.
Be aware of these triggers if possible, don’t purposely bring them up to talk about or discuss with the individual experiencing the depression. If they bring up the triggers in their life that affect them, learn to listen, rather than offer advice. Show that you aren’t going to judge them and figure out how you can follow their lead in the conversation.
2. Educate Yourself
Even if you’re someone who has gone through your own version of depression, you can never go wrong if you take time to learn some of the facts and research behind what depression is.
You don’t need to spout this information to your loved one, but it will better prepare you to notice signs and behavioral differences when you interact with your loved one who is experiencing depression.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions either, reach out to a local specialist and ask some of the questions that come to mind that you experience when being around your loved one. Find out specific ways to help and learn about other research resources you can use to better prepare yourself for dealing with what life will throw at you when supporting your loved one.
3. Be Available
We all have our busy schedules, but if someone close to you is going through depression, don’t close yourself off from them. Offer as much love and support as you can, be there to listen to them, and hear them out when they vent out what’s bringing them down.
Often times you’ll find that when you’re there for someone going through a hard bout of depression, it will help with improving memory and work as a natural memory enhancer. When they have some form of stability in their life, they will be able to use that as a motivator.
4. Don’t Tough-Love
Tough love is the one tactic you do not want to use when trying to offer support to someone you care about whom going through depression.
Tough love will make the individual going through depression feel worthless and might even drive them to the point of questioning their own sanity. You might be trying to help by using this tactic, but in reality, it’s a form of manipulation that can make them want to close off from those around them even more.
When you use tough love as a form of “support” you won’t be doing anything beneficial toward improving memory or aiding them in any other way that will ease the stress they’re currently going through.
Instead, offer a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on, don’t hold them back to protect them, but also don’t abuse them until they “cure” themselves. Like we first mentioned, depression is a spectrum, it’s different for everyone, which means everyone needs a different kind of support.
5. Validate Them
Do everything you can to encourage the right choices. Don’t push them out of their comfort zones, but when they do something for themselves, let them know that you’re proud of them and stand behind them 100%.
Offer to cook a healthy meal, something that will help with improving memory and their mood. Take them out to enjoy a coffee or have a nice brunch. Be there for them and validate them.
It’s key to remember that validation is an important tool for dealing with someone who has mood swings which are often present in those who have depression. By validating them, you’re letting them know that you understand what they’re going through and that it’s a real problem, not just something in their head.
Having depression is hard. It’s beyond difficult and no matter who is going through it, it can break someone down. But by taking the necessary steps to be there for the individuals you love the most, you’re already helping them.
Have you learned how to better deal with depression in the real world? Will this change how you view depression?