Depression is a simple word which can cause a huge impact on a loved one’s life. It affects his or her mood and outlook towards life. It can make her feel extremely hopeless and helpless or sad. Depression can affect the way she feels life and her ability to enjoy the things she previously did.
Depression is a mental disorder with a number of physical symptoms like losing appetite, being unable to sleep properly, concentrate or work, feeling restless, suffering from fatigue, isolating oneself and withdrawing. People with chronic clinical depression are also very likely to try suicide.
It may be caused due to a number of factors – abuse, the death of a loved one, genetics, major life event, substance abuse. The medical community doesn’t really know for sure. Depression is a ‘koan’, we don’t know why it happens to someone. But, we do know that we can do something about it so that it recedes, if not go away entirely.
Here are five things that you can do to support your loved one if she or he is in the grip of depression:
1. Educate yourself about this mental disease
You must know how depression manifests in your loved one. Each person with depression has different symptoms. Observe how depression affects your friend or spouse and try to understand the many facets of this mercurial disease. The more you know about depression, the better equipped you will be to recognize the symptoms and support a loved one.
2. Hang in there
A really big part of depression is feeling really lonely. That’s why your loved one needs you to be there for her. Your support is required for her to try to extricate herself from the miasma of depression. Be more intentional about making your love felt, through whatever means like cooking something that your loved one likes or spending quality time together. Do whatever it is that will make them feel happy and loved.
3. Treatment is vital
Your friend with depression may just feel fine one day and decide to stop her medicines. Your job is to stop her from doing this as it can be dangerous. Serious clinical depression requires medicines and it doesn’t improve without treatment. You can also help your loved one by expressing your concerns, discussing treatment options, and helping fix appointments with experts. You could also offer to go with them to the doctor’s if that is something they want.
4. Monitor their self-care
Self-care is an important part of keeping depressive episodes at bay for lots of sufferers. Self-care includes simple activities like regular exercise, eating well, spending time with friends and family, and spending time doing what they love. Do encourage your loved one to keep up these good habits. Help them along in subtle ways like buying them a perfume or ordering-in a pizza so they eat regularly.
Tender, loving care is very important. We may sometimes underestimate “the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, or a listening ear” to quote Leo Buscaglia, but, these have the potential to turn a life around.
Supporting a loved one through depression is not an easy task, and you don’t have to do it alone. There are resources and support available for people in the same boat as you. Take advantage of them to remain strong.