Acera Health

How to Help a Loved One with Depression

Family sitting and talking about their loved one with depression

Nothing compares to the pain of seeing a loved one struggle with depression. You know, and probably they know, something isn’t right, but somehow, they keep pushing you away.

Or maybe you’ve done what you think is the best, yet nothing appears to change for the better, or you just don’t know how to help your loved one with depression. 

Despite the different circumstances, the feeling is the same; gut-wrenching pain as you watch your friend or family member suffer while you feel helpless about the whole situation.

But you can make a difference and help your loved one with depression. Thanks to advances in science and medicine, we now have better and more effective ways of managing depression.

Read on to find out more about depression and what you can do to help your loved one.

How Serious is Depression?

Depression is a severe mental illness that is less talked about but is more prevalent in the general population and has the most severe consequences. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates show that around 280 million people live with depression worldwide.

In the US alone, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) reports an estimated 21 million adults experienced or lived with depression in 2020. This is just up until 2020, and the figure may be higher considering a significant number of cases go undiagnosed or unreported.

But what’s disheartening about these statistics is that depression cuts across all demographics. Children and young adults are not spared. It’s also sad that there isn’t much awareness of the subject.

Numbers aside, depression can have devastating consequences for those that live with it and their loved ones if it’s not managed correctly.

If left untreated, clinical depression can lead to:

  • Increased tendency to engage in risky or errant behavior like drug abuse
  • Productivity issues at work
  • Breakdown of relationships
  • Predisposition to chronic diseases
  • High risk of suicide

By all means, it’s justifiable to say depression is a silent and severe epidemic ravaging populations. Still, there aren’t adequate measures in place to curb it.

How to Know When Someone is Depressed

The thing is, it’s pretty hard to tell if someone is depressed by simply looking at them. A majority of people with depression may not even know that they’re depressed themselves. 

A cheerful and ever-productive person can be just as depressed as someone with clearly visible symptoms. 

If you notice any or all of these symptoms, then your loved one may be depressed:

  • Significant changes in their sleeping habits, they may sleep more or less than their norm
  • Considerable and unexplained appetite fluctuations
  • Unexplained weight loss or gains
  • Increased irritability, anxiety, or low self-worth
  • Reduced interest in activities they love
  • Too much fatigue
  • Unexplained physical pain like headaches, joint or back pain
  • Suicide ideation and more focus on violence or death
  • Deliberate social withdrawal
  • Attempted self-harm
  • Any form of cognitive impairment, i.e., difficulty concentrating or remembering things

Remember, these are only clues that could point toward depression. The signs and symptoms of depression can vary based on the person. A medical professional is better placed to make a more accurate and conclusive diagnosis of whether your loved one is depressed.

What to Say to Someone Who is Depressed

Consistently communicating with a depressed loved one is vital to their recovery. However, you often may not know what to say for fear that you could worsen the situation. 

A reliable approach is to focus on empathy, try to get their perspective, and listen more with less bias. Here are four things you can say to someone with depression:

1. That you’re willing to listen

The best thing you can say to a loved one who is depressed is that you want to hear them out. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and anything they want to get off their chest. Listen carefully to their challenges and their struggle with depression. 

While you’re at it, reassure them and listen to what they say without making judgments. The worst thing you can do is tell them to “just snap out of it.” 

Depression is a debilitating illness and hurts just as much, if not more, than a physical illness or injury. Even if you’ve been depressed before, resist the urge to say that their experience is similar to yours.

2. That they mean so much to you

One of the terrible effects of depression is how it degrades someone’s self-worth and esteem. But this isn’t the usual degradation of self-worth and esteem stemming from external factors.

A depressed person views the world differently. It’s like they’re drowning or falling down a deep dark valley, and there’s nothing they can do about it. They may have tried or thought about trying, but they eventually concluded it was all a lost cause.

As a result, depressed people see themselves as a burden to others since they couldn’t help themselves in the first place. The lack of self-worth comes from within, and the only way to support such an individual is to reassure them that they mean a lot to you and any other person they care about. 

3. They have your love and support if they choose to seek help

Depression is no respecter of person, time, or circumstance. It can strike at the most inconvenient time, say, a person eyeing a promotion at work, a parent with young kids starting school, or any other scenario you can think of.

In all these circumstances, a depressed person can’t just pause their life to get their mental health in order. They’ll opt to push through the pain even when it’s counterproductive. 

Tell a depressed loved one that while you may not understand what they’re going through, they have all your support and love as they seek medical help. Talk to the person about professional help and seek the support of a mental health professional. 

4. It’s possible to get back to their former selves with the right help, and if they choose to take it

The worst part about depression is that someone may know they’re unwell, but courtesy of inadequate awareness, they can’t pinpoint the cause or the illness.

Add on to the fact that there’s limited information on treatment solutions, and you have a perfect disaster. Think of some psychiatric institutions’ less-than-ideal reputations, and you’ll infer why most depressed people choose not to seek treatment.

The last thing a depressed person wants is to be dictated to how they should carry themselves because nothing matters at this point. Some people struggling with depression may feel overwhelmed at the thought of receiving treatment for their mental health. 

Explain to your loved one that there are various effective treatment options to get them back to the life they love. However, speak to them about treatment with caution. It shouldn’t come off as forced; instead, it should factor in their concerns and be as informative and transparent as possible.

Encourage your loved one to participate in treatment when they are ready and help them connect with a doctor or therapist if they ask. It is important to support the person and offer assistance wherever possible. 

Get Help with Depression with Acera Health

Seeking professional help is the first step toward helping a loved one recover from depression. 

At Acera Health, we understand that depression manifests differently for everyone and that an accurate diagnosis and early treatment are crucial to a better prognosis and, eventually, full recovery.

Our treatment center is adequately equipped to ensure your loved one gets all the help they need to recover from depression. 

Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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