Supporting a Loved One With Depression

Hello hello beautiful souls,

Having a loved one who suffers from depression can be very difficult, because you want so much to help them and be there for him but you don’t know how.  Below are a handful of tips for being the best companion to your loved one as you can possibly be, and looking out for your own mental health in the process.

  1. Understand that they may feel like they are burdening you.  This is a common symptom of depression, and therefore they may not always be very forthcoming when asking for help.  All this requires is a little extra initiative on your part.  And it wouldn’t hurt to remind them now and again that they aren’t, and never will be, a burden to you.
  2. Also understand that you can’t cure them.  It can be frustrating to put a lot of effort into being there for someone and feel that it was all for naught.  But it’s important to remember that you can’t cure them, and that isn’t your job.  Unfortunately, depression doesn’t care how many supportive loved ones a person has, it will still swoop in and make itself at home.  All you can do is be there, and support them, and love them, and that is enough.  You are enough.
  3. Let them know they are loved.  Frequently.  Verbally and non-verbally.  Another common symptom of depression is feeling worthless and unlovable, and being convinced that everyone hates you.  The best way to counteract that is to tell them, and show them, that you do in fact love them, and do so over and over again, especially when the nasty little voice in their head is trying to tell them otherwise. Verbally is pretty self explanatory, but there are also a million ways to show a person you love them.  You can hug them, or cook them a meal they really like, or offer to watch their favorite TV show or movie.
  4. Be patient and encouraging.  What may seem like simple things to you – brushing your hair, taking a shower, eating, staying hydrated, spending some time outside – can be incredibly difficult for someone with depression.  So be encouraging – coax them into taking a shower, or sitting in the sun for five minutes.  But be patient – don’t expect more than they are capable of giving.
  5. Be aware of your own mental health.  Being a strong supporter of someone with depression is admirable and important work.  But it can also wear on you.  Take time for yourself, to recharge, to reconnect.  Check out our post on Self Care for tips on how to stay sane and healthy in the midst of all the craziness life throws at us.

You are strong, you are awe-inspiring.  Thank you for being you.

“That’s the thing about depression: a human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight.  But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.  The fog is like a cage without a key.” — Elizabeth Wurtzel

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