Depression can be defined as feeling sad for weeks or months and not just a day or two. Depression can be accompanied by a huge hole of emptiness inside, lack of energy and no pleasure in things once enjoyed. To be clear, clinical depression is different from normal sadness. Clinical depression interferes with one’s work or school, relationships with others and ability to enjoy life. However, clinical depression is treatable with modern antidepressant medications and goal-orientated psychotherapy.
No two people experience depression the same. Some people may not seem sad while others can be unmotivated to do anything like eat or get dressed. These tasks can become large obstacles in their daily life. When friends and family notice these changes, it is alright to say something.
Show your loved one how you are on their side. Avoid saying asking them, “Why can’t you just get dressed/eat/get out of bed?”
Instead say, “You seem to have trouble getting dressed/getting out of bed/eating. What can I do to help you in this area?”
Never ask what their problem is or invalidate their feelings by telling them they are upset about nothing. Instead express your support by stating, “You seem to be finding this issue a big deal at the moment. How can we solve it together?”
Since many people suffering from depression have lost their ability to recognize their positive attributes, giving plenty of reassurance can also be very helpful.
People with depression can spend a lot of time reflecting on their situation. Give understanding and sympathy by sometimes doing nothing but merely listening. Offer a hug or to hold them for a moment. This also conveys how you are there for them.
Try not to be offended if your loved one asks you to leave them alone. Sometimes, that is the most helpful thing you can do at that moment. It is also important to accept the person where they are and not let it totally consume your life. You too have to take care of yourself. Set healthy boundaries. Know your limits as to how you can commit to helping them while balancing your own needs so you can recharge and look after them the best way possible.
Other things you can ask of your depressed loved one are:
Offer to fix your loved one lunch, tidy up their place, take them out for coffee or a movie. No one thinks twice about doing or offering these things for someone who is going through chemo. Why not go there for a person battling a serious mood disorder?
I am a determined, loving, loyal and perceptive therapist that helps professional women of color build their self-confidence to build a career and live a life worth living. I listen quietly and attentively remembering details to tell truths that need to be spoken.