5 best ways to support someone with depression

Depression is still one of the most alarming mental health issue of our generation. According to statistics last 2016, about 300 million of people across the globe are suffering from depression. 16.2 million of these are adults in the United States. Out of these 16.2 million of adults, 44,000 of them died through a suicide, while 494,169 of them have visited hospitals due to self-harm.

Because of the alarming number of people affected by depression, a lot of articles, infomercials, and campaigns were produced to raise awareness about this mental health issue. Most of these paraphernalia discuss how to spot people with depression and how to help them.

But what the statistics fail to cover, is the number of people who don’t have depression but love and care for someone who have this alarming mental health issue. As infomercials say, ‘depression hurts more than just you… it hurts everyone around you.’ loving and caring for someone with depression is as hard as having depression as well.

Why? because we can empathize with them, but we cannot fully understand the things that are going on inside their head. We can try to try to convince them not to listen to the disheartening voices inside their head, only to fail. We can attempt to fix them, but that will only frustrate us because no matter how hard we try, we are not the one who can and should fix them.

So what can we do in order to show our support to the people we love suffering from depression, without getting frustrated at them, or at ourselves? Hope Racine, a blogger who experienced being there for her friend who is suffering from depression, shares her realizations after a long time. Here’s her advice that will be of help to those whose friend, family, beloved suffers from depression.

[1] Understand that depression is an invisible illness.

Depression is more than just an emotion nor a state of being. Just like any physical health diseases, depression is a health issue in its own right. It comes out of nowhere and simply hit people out of the blue.

Some people with depression may smile when surrounded by other people, but there is something else brewing in their mind. Depression robs them off feeling genuine happiness, it instills self-doubt, and seeds anxiety with disheartening thoughts that could cripple their normal life.

Simply because we cannot see depression, does not mean that it is not there. depressed people are mentally sick, but can recover and heal from it as well.

[2] Remind yourself that you are not the reason behind their depression. 

No enough words could describe how difficult depression feels like. A person may be happy all his or her life, only to wake-up with unpleasant thoughts and demotivated heart. Depression leaves a void to one’s heart that simply could not be satisfied by something or by someone. If there are times that your loved one suddenly lost interest to live nor pursue his or her dreams, and began withdrawing from you, understand that it is not your fault.

[3] DO NOT  fix them! 

It sure is important to keep a happy and optimistic outlook in life, even if your loved one has depression. However, if you think that rubbing your positive and vibrant personality in their face will make them see the beauty of life, you better think again. An endless supply of positivity will not help them, rather it will only do more harm than good. It will only frustrate them even more.

Understand that depression is a feeling of lack of emotion, thus, there is no need to fix them, for you cannot fix something that is not there. Stop trying to ‘cheer’ them up. Instead, simply let them know that you are there for them. And instead of giving your personal opinion, simply listen to them and validate their thoughts and feelings.

[4] Emotions are good, even if they are unpleasant!

When someone has depression, he is numb of emotions that a normal person would feel. But don’t worry, because it will gradually come back as they recover from depression. For some people with depression, it is common to cry their hearts out and break down once-in-a-while.

Sometimes, they will feel angry and frustrated for unknown reasons. Sometimes, you will be the sponge to their frustrations in life. They will get angry at you, they may scream at you, they may curse at you. Please do not take these emotions against them, although it is difficult for you as well, at least they can finally vent out and express their frustrations.

And when their heart has emptied itself from negative feelings, there will be room for peace.

[5] Don’t forget to love yourself.

Loving someone with depression is not easy, it can leave you in pieces as well. Though you have a strong urge to be with them for 24/7, and take care of them all the time, please be reminded that you have to prioritize yourself as well.

Do not forget that you have your own life as well. Take care of yourself, pursue your career, and celebrate your success with them. You might think that it is like rubbing salt to an open wound, but just because they have depression doesn’t mean that they do not love you anymore.

And just like how loving people are, they will be happy for your success in life.

There are times that you will break down out of frustration, there are times that you will get hurt. But no matter how difficult your situation is, do not make them feel that they are making things difficult for you. In difficult times, remind your love ones and yourself that it is you and them versus depression, and not the other way around.

Never give-up on the people you love, who are suffering from depression. They need you more today than ever. Never hesitate to reach out to them and make them feel that you are there for them. You have ears that will listen, you have your heart that will understand, and you have a determination that will never waver. It may take a long time for them to recover from depression, remind them that they are worth waiting for!

(Please get in touch with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right away if you, or someone you care about needs help. They are available to help 24/7, just dial 1-800-273-8255 or go to their official website to chat with a counselor live).

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