The truth is depression is a complicated process. It is a mental health condition that affects the way a person feels about themselves, the way they think as well as the way they sleep and eat. It is often misused in daily language as we aren’t able to physically see a person is struggling, but there is a clear difference between sadness and depression.
Depression is an actual health condition, that affects how a person functions. People with depression cannot ‘snap out of it’ because you tell them too, so we need to be aware of how our words and actions can harm someone.
Much has been written in the media recently about the ‘be kind’ movement – encouraging people to spread positivity and support rather than hate or opinion, especially amongst those scrutinized in the public eye. But if you know a loved one, colleague or friend is struggling with depression, what steps can you take to help?
1) Don’t judge or criticize- just listen
Just like negative words can affect people’s self-esteem being too judgemental or critical of a person experiencing depression can have a powerful impact on them. Instead of telling them to try a different technique, expressing disappointment or trying to shake them out of it- just listen. Chances are the person experiencing depression would have already thought of these things. To put it simply- depression is not a choice. Nobody chooses to feel that way. So listen to how they feel and be sympathetic to these complicated emotions.
2) Try a small gesture
Whilst it is not recommended to give advice or to ask open-ended questions, sometimes a small gesture can really help. Often people experiencing depression don’t know what they can do to stop feeling this way, let alone how you can help. Yet, something as simple as sending a text to let them know you are thinking of them, or sending a bunch of flowers ‘just because’ can mean so much. Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S at Psych Central says ‘These gestures provide a loving connection [and] they’re also a beacon of light that helps guide your loved one when the darkness lifts.’
3) Patience is key
The truth is there will be good days and bad days… and sometimes no pattern, explanation or thought process as to why a rough patch may hit. Patience is a pivotal part in supporting somebody with depression. It demonstrates too that person that it doesn’t matter how long it takes to feel better, or how difficult the treatment will be- but you will be there. It also offers hope, which for many people experiencing depression is something they struggle with. When depression has a grip, it is hard to see a way out, a time when you will feel better. But by remaining patient and positive, things WILL improve. This is providing those with depression and incentive to keep going.
4) Simply be there
Perhaps the most important point is to ‘be there’. You can express this in several different ways- it doesn’t always have to be physically. Although often just sitting with someone whilst they talk, or let their emotions out can help. But a phone call every once in a while or remembering to organize something special on a birthday can reinforce to the person experiencing depression that even when they are going through a tough time they are an important part of your life.
5) Consider Choices Personalized Retreats Program
If you know someone who is depressed, it could be worth mentioning the support available to them and reassuring them that depression is treatable. Our Choices Personalized Program in Retreat uses a combination of mindfulness therapy and CBT in a safe and healing environment. This intensive program has been proven to offer better results than on a ‘ ‘seen once a week’ basis.
Find out more here: https://www.choicesretreats.com/depression-2/