“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straight forward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather. Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.” — Stephen Fry
If You Aren’t Sure How to Cope When a Loved One is Depressed, It May Be Time to Learn
The number of people reporting depression symptoms shot up drastically when Covid began, with a recent study suggesting depression tripled among Canadians this past spring. The more significant burden fell on people with fewer resources, socially and economically, and more exposure to stressful situations, such as job loss. Ongoing surveys find that 25% of respondents still report feeling depressed daily.
These kinds of struggles are heart-wrenching to witness. The following suggestions can help you both.
Ways to Help Care For a Loved One in Distress
· Encourage your loved one to get treatment and stick with it.
· Ask if you can help arrange an in-person or telephone appointment with a therapist or psychologist. Gently remind your loved one about taking medication or keeping therapy appointments. Don’t ignore comments about suicide.
· Offer emotional support. Your patience and love can make a huge difference. Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. Try not to brush off or judge the other person’s feelings, but do offer hope. Suggest activities you can do together; remember that it takes time to improve. Don’t worry if you don’t know what to say — it takes years of training to advise people in emotional distress.
· Recognize that depression may manifest as irritability or anger, often directed toward family and other loved ones. Remind yourself that a disease is causing your loved one to act differently. Try not to blame the person who is struggling — after all, you wouldn’t place blame if a physical illness were causing the person to change.
Take Good Care of Yourself
Finally, remember to pay attention to your well-being. Consider therapy for yourself, or join a support group if needed. This is crucial to lessen your own risk for depression because caregivers have high rates of depression and anxiety. Other forms of self-care can be beneficial, too. Consider yoga or meditation.