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How to Help Someone with Depression

Nancy MacGregor MA, ATR-BC, LPC, ACS, Clinical Director

Approximately 7% of people in the United States suffer from depression. But depression is tricky. Something that helps one person handle their depression may not work for another. So, how can you help your friend or family member when they are having trouble with their depression or mental illness?

The reality of it is, it can be hard to know what exactly to say to help someone who is struggling with depression. You may be asking, “How do I help someone with depression?” Here is a quick list of things you can do to help your loved one. A lot of people know and understand the concept of what depression is, but symptoms can sometimes be hard to spot. Depression looks different on everyone, so it’s important to be aware of the various symptoms that someone might be dealing with – especially the ones that are more difficult to spot right away. 

Those suffering may mask their feelings and tell you that everything is fine, when in fact, they’re struggling to keep it together on a daily basis.

Some symptoms of depression and signs that someone is depressed can include:

  • Losing interest in activities that they used to enjoy
  • Being more pessimistic
  • Feelings of shame or worthlessness 
  • Irritability 
  • Neglecting basic hygiene
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Trouble concentrating or becoming more forgetful 

It’s important to follow your gut instinct and learn what to look for.If you want to know how to help someone with clinical depression, the best thing you can do is listen. Ask open-ended questions to find out more about what they are thinking or why they are feeling sad. 

The more you listen, the more they might share how you can help them. It’s important to avoid putting words in their mouth or accusing them of complaining.It’s easy to confuse sympathy with empathy. Rather than feeling sorry for your loved ones and what they are experiencing, try understanding where they are coming from. 

Whatever you do – refrain from saying “I know how you feel.” (Unless you suffer from depression yourself, it can be difficult to relate on the same level.) People dealing with mental health problems want to feel heard, not just listened to.Avoid letting a person who is depressed bring you down or convince you to neglect your own needs. For example, if you have a spouse who never wants to go out with friends, don’t stay at home with them every night. 

Social interaction is a basic human need, and you shouldn’t deprive yourself of it. Neglecting your own needs may lead you down the road to treating depression, codependency, bipolar disorder, or other mental health challenges.Physical and emotional boundaries help you define where you stop and where your loved one starts. In some cases, these boundaries become blurred. When that happens, a related condition called “enmeshment” occurs, which is common in codependency.

As a result, it becomes hard to distinguish how you’re feeling from the feelings of your loved one. Maintaining a strong sense of self is vital for helping someone with depression.People with major depressive disorder, or people with depression, can sometimes have difficulty completing day-to-day tasks. For example, that sink full of dishes that are piling up may seem like a small task to you, but to them is a hurdle they just can’t jump. 

This can also apply to things like grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, vacuuming, etc. 

If you want to offer your assistance, instead of asking “Is there anything I can help with?” try to say something like “What is one thing I can help you cross off your list today?” Or just be direct and say “Would it help if I took care of those dishes for you?” 

It’s okay to offer to help them with things that aren’t usually your responsibility. Odds are, you might get a head nod or a yes, and at that point, you can take action. That small task getting done can mean so much to your loved one. 

Always ask in a genuinely supportive way, and be ready for a possible half-hearted thank you. Seeming not to care is often a protection mechanism when a person feels overwhelmed and depressed.A person who is depressed may know they would benefit from a program, but looking for a therapist or getting to appointments may be overwhelming and seem like too much to handle. As they begin to heal, it will get easier. The best thing you can do is help them make the first step.

In other words, you could potentially start by helping them set the appointment. Having a solid support system is key to addressing mental health challenges. Additionally, you might arrange childcare, help them get ready, and even drive them yourself. 

While it may seem like overreaching, it’s just a push in the right direction. It all depends on the level of help that they are comfortable with, as well, as you don’t want to seem too pushy. Don’t forget, they will need to accept the help offered – it can’t be forced – and make the most of it by completing therapy for depression.At Harmony Bay Wellness, our compassionate team of professionals offers people struggling with depression a chance to learn how to manage their condition and rediscover life through integrative wellness.

We take a holistic approach to health by addressing body, mind, emotion, and spiritual wellness. Our holistic approach includes techniques such as:

If you or a loved one are suffering from depression, know that you are not alone, and healing is possible. Find a therapist or psychiatrist near Washington Township or Sewell today and watch your life change.

Are you ready to move forward and start therapy? Then contact Harmony Bay Wellness of New Jersey.

As shown above, we offer comprehensive therapy options to help with the challenges of coping with Mental Health.

To schedule a consultation today, call us at 855.765.6399.

Treatment with Harmony Bay

Harmony Bay is an outpatient behavioral health service that offers primary mental health treatment for a variety of mental health disorders. Our mission is to make mental health care convenient and affordable while providing an unmatched experience to our clients. contact us today by calling 855.765.6399.