Depression is a common illness. Statistics indicate that around 7 percent of adults in the USA experience depression at least once in their lives.
These numbers are also likely underestimating how prevalent depression is. This is because depression is often underreported due to embarrassment.
The fact that you likely know a few people who have dealt with depression in the past is still hard when it happens to a loved one. When you hear a family member is suffering from depression, your first instinct is usually to help.
This can be tough when you don’t know how best to deal with someone who is depressed. This is because it can be intimidating not knowing what to say or how to communicate with them. For this reason, we put together this article with a few ways you can help a loved one through a tough time in their lives.
5 Ways To Help A Family Member With Depression
Keep communication open and honest.
One of the biggest factors in helping someone through any problem, mental or physical, is communication. Communicate openly and honestly about worries you have about the family member, as well as how you’re prepared to support them.
This can help encourage them to communicate openly and honestly to you, helping them work through their problems with you and others.
Judgment should be avoided when communicating with a loved one about depression. This is because it can cause the other person to withdraw and stop talking about their mental health.
This will lead to a breakdown in communication, making the family member feel lonely and contribute further to their depressive state.
Encourage seeking help from a qualified professional
No matter how much help you can provide to a depressed family member, a trained professional will always be able to offer more. This is due to the greater training and experience they have in treating those with depression.
But, encouraging a loved one to seek help from a qualified professional should be done gently. This is because many people may think that seeking help is embarrassing. So, gradually encouraging a loved one to seek help should be a part of your communication with your loved one about dealing with depression.
Reinforce and encourage progress
One thing to expect when trying to help a loved one with depression is for it to be a gradual process. This is because relapses into depression can be common. So, be patient and emphasize all the progress a loved one has made if a relapse occurs.
This will help keep progress consistent and may help stave off a relapse in the future.
Identify the underlying problems behind the depression.
Part of helping someone with depression is identifying why they’re depressed. While this may seem obvious to some, a lot of people often deal with the symptoms. Asking someone why they feel like they do and trying to solve the underlying problems will go a long way in finding a permanent solution.
Involve others close to the member if possible
Having a group of people close to the person with depression help them out can be very beneficial. It can help them feel included and loved while also preventing all the workload of helping the person from falling onto you.
But, it’s important that including new people into the discussion is only done with the affected family member’s permission. Otherwise, this can hurt trust and openness.
When depression hits a loved one, many can turn to drugs or alcohol. Including some tips to help you stay clean and sober can help prevent using these substances as a crutch. This should be used in tandem with open and honest communication.
This is because alcohol and drugs can make depression progressively worse. Meanwhile, regular exercise and a diet rich in healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates may help fight depression and improve mood.
So, when looking to help a loved one with depression, it’s important to look at more than just improving their mindset. Improving their physical state may be as important.