How to Help a Friend or Relative that has Major Depression
When a relative or friend is seriously depressed, it can be confusing for those they know or live with. A truly depressed person shows their illness in a variety of ways; from sleeping or eating too much or too little, not getting pleasure out of anything, or possibly withdrawing into their own world. There are many other possible symptoms, but major depression isn’t just feeling blue, it feels like a train came along and flattened your emotions and desires. Having had this illness my entire life, I know first-hand the devastation it can cause.
If the depressed person is willing, suggest to them to be checked by a doctor. For years, I ignored taking medicines, insisting that they weren’t necessary. Finally, after feeling particularly bottomed out after leaving my ex-husband, I decided to give them a try. It took changing medicines a few times to find the right ones, but eventually the doctor found the correct types for my depression. Anti-depressants don’t take all the symptoms away, but they do make the quality of life better for many people.
Living with someone depressed can be hard, because their energy level may be very low, and their negativity can be sometimes distressing to those around them. Realize that when your loved one is negative, it’s the depression talking. It isn’t a character flaw or laziness on their part; most likely it is a chemical imbalance. Depression can come in waves. One minute the person is seemingly ok, then there’s a trigger to set them off of some kind, and they become sad again. It’s frustrating, to not be able to make things better for them. The best you can do is take them for a medical review, because the only way to get the chemical imbalance under control is with medicines and a good therapist. Therapists usually work on a sliding scale fee. There are clinics that sometimes counsel for free, so check around, to see what place is best for your family. All the therapist does is listen and analyze their client’s mind. It’s like a paid friend, who keeps a professional distance but encourages you to discuss anything depressing, so the two of you can work it out together. It does work. Sometimes, you need to switch therapists to find the right personality match, but give it a few sessions before switching, to see if the two of you are compatible or not.
Encourage the depressed person to talk about his or herself. Try to gently get them to open up when they are quiet. Talking about their feelings helps to dispel the stress or sadness they feel. For example, when my beloved cat, Blackie, died, I got on the phone with a grief counselor. Before calling, I felt off-balance and devastated, with a pounding heart and an overwhelming feeling of gloom and doom. Just by talking to someone I don’t even know, my emotions evened out and I felt calm and in control a half hour later. Being depressed is a full time job in itself. It takes mind control to undo old negativity and a relentless need to get better, to work on the daunting pain that comes from being very sad all the time.
By listening to your depressed friend or relative, you are helping them to open up, express themselves, and move away from the pain they’re in. Give yourself breaks to ease your own stress, to make your life easier, too. Be gentle and kind to the depressed person you care about. Those of us who are depressed want to be card about, respected and appreciated for who they are right now. With time, therapy and possibly medicines, depression can be lessened. Give yourself credit for hanging in there, through thick and thin. Depressed people need love and understanding. Though they may or may not express it, they are grateful for your caring. People in their pasts may not have given them the love or caring that they needed. Thank you for making the effort and showing them you’re in it for the long haul.
Tags: Depression , Sadness , Therapy , Psychology
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