• Kay Johnston

Simple Ways to Help Someone if you Believe they are Suffering from Depression

If you believe someone close to you is struggling with depression here are a few simple ways to support them.

Depression can be an isolating and difficult to understand illness and it can be difficult for those suffering to admit they are ill and talk about it.

Indications that someone might be depressed:

- A lack of interest in everyday activities

- Feeling tired more often

- Not wanting to talk to or be with others

- Tearful

- A lack of concentration – problems with memory

- Using drugs or alcohol to cope

- Being agitated – a lack of patience

- Talking negatively about themselves

- Finding it difficult to make decisions

- Talking about feelings of guilt, self-loathing

- Low sex drive

- Difficultly sleeping – disturbed sleep pattern

- Moving or speaking more slowly than usual

- Neglecting hobbies and interests

- Unexplained aches and pains

- Change in appetite – eating more or less

- Finding it difficult to be positive about the future

- Feeling sad

Simple ways that you can help them:

- Talk to them, let them know you are there for them and ask them is there anything you can do to help

- Let them know that you have noticed they don’t seem themselves and ask them how they are feeling

- Listen to what they tell you, and don’t judge them. Accept them as they are.

- Don’t say, “…what’s someone like you got to be depressed about.” Depression is an illness, people don’t choose to be depressed.

- Be patient with them, it might take multiple attempts to get them to open up and talk to you

- Encourage them to seek professional help – depression won’t go away on its own.

- Be there for them, talk to them face to face, email, Skype, text etc. Let them know you care and that you are there for them when they need you.

- Don’t pass judgement about taking medication – often people feel guilty for taking antidepressants and will stop treatment abruptly because someone says something inappropriate about medication, i.e. “are you still taking your happy pills”.

- Do something nice for them, take them out, make them laugh, bake them a cake etc. Do something to show you care.

- Accept that they are ill and won’t be able to do as much as they usually do.

- Ask them what they need help with.

- Don’t avoid the subject – if someone is brave enough to admit they have depression, give them your full attention. It could have taken them weeks to say those words.

- Make sure you leave enough time for you. Looking after someone with depression is hard. Encourage them to do things to help themselves.

- If possible, go out for a walk together, exercise, fresh air and light are all good things to help a depressed person feel a bit better.

Finally, don’t give up on them, depression can and does get better. It does take time, but brighter days will come.

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