3 Tips for Helping Someone Overcome Depression
Helping someone overcome depression doesn’t have to be overwhelming—if you have the right help and action steps in mind. It is good to remind them of your willingness to help and support them and to encourage them to open up. With patience and understanding, one of the best things you can do is listen without judgment or assumptions. Meanwhile, it’s important that you educate yourself about clinical depression and the treatment options that can help your loved one turn a corner.
Often hidden from plain sight, depression can wreak havoc on our lives. We may dismiss it as a bad mood. We may weigh other priorities against our suffering. We may be simply unable to reach up out of the depths to do anything about it.
People with depression who have caring friends and family around them are the fortunate ones. When it may be too much for someone with depression to advocate for themselves, these supportive loved ones can recognize a person’s struggles and the importance of positive change.
Helping someone overcome depression is not as overwhelming as it may seem right now because you don’t have to stand on your own.
Clinical depression is actually quite common, and quality treatment programs are available to reinspire hope and to effect real improvement. While your loved one may feel alone in their despair, they won’t feel alone on the road to recovery.
What You Can Do When Helping Someone Overcome Depression
So, how can you start now to build that bridge toward recovery for your spouse or sibling or friend? There are some careful actions you can take to build a supportive rapport, to counteract this person’s isolation, and to mobilize the powerful resources for rehabilitation.
If you can be observant of and receptive to their struggles, you can also keep an eye out for solutions that they are unable to recognize. While it is important to be patient and sensitive, communicating your concerns can show this person that you care. And it can remind them that hope is there even when it feels out of reach.
1 – Ask Compassionate Questions
Though at first, you may be apprehensive, communicating with a depressed loved one in a meaningful way opens doors to healing. It is often easy for someone with depression to lose touch with a balanced reality. So, when you make a personal connection with them, you are reintroducing opportunities for healing that they can’t necessarily connect with on their own.
With patience and sensitivity, you can ask:
- Do you need to blow off some steam?
- Do you ever think about harming yourself?
- Can you think of specific things that make you feel worse?
- Is there anything that helps you to feel better?
- Can you think of any way that I can help you?
You don’t want to apply pressure or try to force answers out of them. But you do want them to always know that your help and support are there. It’s good to offer reminders of your care and your willingness. But, sometimes, the best support is just being with them.
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2 – Be Willing to Listen
This person may not be ready to open up and answer your questions right away, however gentle and considerate they may be. That’s okay. But don’t give up on this important connection that can make recovery possible.
When they are ready to open up, let them tell you what’s going on. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you know anything about what this person is feeling or going through.
Suspend your judgment and criticism as you listen to their story. Stay hopeful, but don’t minimize their suffering. In other words, don’t try to talk them out of any negativity. It’s more helpful to simply express understanding. Let them know that you recognize how hard it is for them to face these thoughts and feelings. Show them that you take them and their feelings very seriously. In this way, you begin to reach out to where they are, and the powerful loneliness and isolation begin to break down.
3 – Learn About Clinical Depression
As a mood disorder, depression is not typically something that just gets better with time. The more you can learn about depressive disorders, the better you’ll understand the dangerous side effects and the possibilities for treatment and recovery. And the more confident you’ll be about supporting your loved one in crisis
As you can expect, learning more about clinical depression can dispel your confusion, but it can also help you to discover a greater degree of patience for extending your active support and hope toward this person. After all, their recovery from depression will likely be a long road, and—while it’s important to connect them with professional help early—it’s also important not to apply unnecessary pressure.
Now is a perfect time to gather a list of the resources and support services available. You can consider the inpatient and outpatient treatment options and how they may suit your depressed loved one’s particular needs. And you can better understand the risks and warning signs of worsening depression and the dangers of self-harm.
You can be a very significant source of support to help guide your loved one toward treatment and to help them better cope with stress and triggers. But even you need support in this process. And it makes a big difference to learn about proven strategies for offering truly productive help.
Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive residential treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles and San Diego-based programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward healing.