Living with Someone Who Suffers from Depression
When you are living with a depressed person, you play an important role in the treatment and recovery of a serious illness. You see how they are acting and living from day to day and offer your support and encouragement whenever you can. Often it’s up to you to pick them up, again and again. This kind of constant care is admirable, but it can wear you down. It’s important that you take care of yourself as much and as often as you care for your depressed loved one.
Helping a loved one who is depressed
Helplessness, frustration, anger, fear, guilt, and sadness. Chances are both you and your depressed loved one are experiencing some if not all of these emotions. That’s normal. It’s not easy handling a friend’s or family member’s depression. In addition to the physical support you give, the worry and other emotions you are experiencing can become overwhelming.
But there are ways to help without wearing yourself out and losing your own world in the process. Start by educating yourself about depression. Learn how to talk to your loved one about it. The more you know about depression, its symptoms and how it is treated, the more you will be able to help. It is very important, however, to maintain your own emotional health.
Symptoms of depression
Depression is more than just not wanting to get out of bed in the morning — this illness can manifest with a number of varying symptoms. Depression may be a distinct possibility in a friend or family member if they display any of the following symptoms:
- Seem tired all the time
- Don’t seem to care about anything.
- Are overly sad, irritable, critical, or moody
- Have lost interest in activities that were once pleasurable to them
- Talk about feeling hopeless
- Have a bleak outlook on life
- Have withdrawn from friends, family, and social activities
- Have erratic sleeping patterns
- Eat more or less than usual, gaining or losing weight as a result
- Have become indecisive, forgetful and disorganized
- Start to drink excessively or abuse drugs
Any of these symptoms can tip you off that a loved one may be depressed, which means it’s time to take action. A depressed person may have only one symptom, several symptoms, or all of them.
Depression is serious
Depression is a serious condition. Don’t underestimate it. It drains the energy, optimism, and motivation right out of someone. And recovery is hardly an overnight process. But with right help and encouragement, someone who is depressed can do as much to change their thinking as some medications will.
Depressed people often say hurtful things to the ones they love. Sometimes they will lash out in anger at them. The symptoms of depression aren’t personal, and this kind of behavior is the depression talking, not the person suffering from it.
Don’t be an enabler. Making excuses or trying to cover up the problem doesn’t help anyone, especially the person who is depressed. The stigma of depression is fading day by day and most who hear that you or a loved one is battling it will likely reach out to help, rather than recoil.
Talking to a loved one about their depression
You might be afraid that your loved one will get angry at you if you bring up the topic of depression. Sometimes it is hard to know what to say. Don’t expect to fix the situation in one conversation. Primarily, you need to be able to listen without judgment, if you can get your loved one to talk about it.
Being a good listener is key. Often, a depressed person isn’t looking for advice. They just want to vent their feelings. Being a sounding board and validating what they say can often be a tremendous help towards getting them into talk therapy. From there, the right therapist can work wonders with a depressed person, but it is still crucial for that person to come home and feel understood and have someone to listen to them when they feel like talking. Some people may never completely kick their depression, but with your help, they can make it to a place where they feel comfortable in the world. And that is a huge achievement.