PyschCentral is an organisation that deals with mental health issues. It offers a variety of articles, quizzes, news and therapies. The article 4 Ways to Support Someone With Depression which is a 2-minute read has been curated from Psych Central and was written by Therese J. Borchard.

4 Ways to Support Someone With Depression

I loved James Bishop’s suggestions of ways to support someone struggling with depression. You can’t go wrong if you follow his directions. Here’s four ways to to address the topic of depression with loved ones.

1. Be On Their Side

The depressed person will often be defensive, so an accusatory tone isn’t helpful. Instead, try to convey a sense of understanding. It isn’t helpful to say “Why can’t you just get out of bed?” Instead try, “You seem to have trouble getting out of bed in the mornings. What can I do to help you in this area?”

The person may have lost perspective on how big a problem this actually is. They will find it hard to hear that what is insurmountable for them is actually not such a big deal. It is unhelpful to say, “What’s your problem? You’re upset about nothing.” Instead try “You seem to be finding this issue a big deal at the moment. Can we solve it together?”

When I was very sick, I often thought my wife was trying to ruin my life. To counter that kind of thinking she would sometimes say, “We are a team. I’m on your side.”

Depression is an awful illness, a whole world away from pure sympathy-seeking. So you should treat it as such by saying things like, “I trust you. If you had a choice in the matter you wouldn’t choose to have depression. How about we search for some solutions together?”

2. Give Plenty of Reassurance

Many people suffering with depression feel unworthy of being loved. You need to reassure them frequently. For example “I love you for who you are. I’m not going to leave you.”

In a similar vein, they may have lost the ability to recognize their positive attributes. You might reaffirm them by saying something like, “You’re a sensitive person who cares for others” or, “People really love you a lot. They think you’re a great person.”

If said repeatedly and with absolute sincerity then it may also be helpful to say, “If you ever need a friend, I am here.”

3. Give Understanding and Sympathy

People with depression can spend a lot of time ruminating on their situation and feeling sorry for themselves. Pointing it out to them is not helpful. Instead, try to sympathize by saying something like:

“I can’t imagine how hard it is for you, but you have all my sympathy.”

“All I want to do is give you a hug and a shoulder to cry on.”

“I can’t honestly say that I know how you feel, but I want to help in any way I can.”

4. Offer to Help

“Let me do anything you need me to do to help.”

If you ask, “What is the best thing I can do to help you right now?” don’t be offended if the reply is “Leave me alone.” Sometimes, that is the most helpful thing you can do at present.

Well meaning people often attempt to fix the problem. They may say something like, “Have you tried aromatherapy? There was an article about it in the paper…” This kind of comment can come across as trivializing the illness. If you want to introduce a treatment idea, make sure you are respectful about the seriousness of depression. Perhaps you can say something like, “It’s important that you stay on your medication and keep seeing your doctor. I’ve found some information on aromatherapy. Would you like to look into it with me?”

While it’s important to accept the person in the state they are in, don’t let it totally consume your life. Otherwise, you’ll fall in a heap and won’t be much help to anyone. You need to take care of yourself. Ensure that you maintain healthy boundaries: “I’m committed to you and to helping you. But I also need to eat / shop / go out for coffee / ring a friend / see a movie to recharge my batteries. Then I can look after you better.”

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4 Ways to Support Someone with Depression

Curated by Liz McCaughey©Copyright 2018 aMindset.HK
aMindset
Kumarahub
Date: September 8, 2018

Liz’s articles are available on both the Kumarahub and the aMindset websites 

About Liz McCaughey:

Liz McCaughey is a qualified psychotherapist with her own private practice in Hong Kong and Australia. You can arrange an appointment here.

If you are unable to travel to Liz’s practice there is an online portal where Skype appointments can be arranged.

Liz has recently opened her new business aMindset in Hong Kong. aMindset is a comprehensive mental health resource that incorporates Psychotherapy, Counselling, Mentoring and Workshops. Liz originally founded the company “Kumara” in Perth, Western Australia in 2003. Kumara is affiliated with aMindset and you can read more about Kumara in the website, KumaraHub.

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