Hello and Welcome Friends and New Visitors,
Many of my regular friends here know I am living with mental health challenges along with maintaining my recovery from addiction. Many suffer in a variety of ways and depression seems to be a popular disorder affecting more than 15 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
Persistent depressive disorder, as I have, or PDD, (formerly called dysthymia) is a form of depression that usually continues for at least two years or longer according to “The Anxiety and Depression Association of America” Alek has written a great article for us to help those we know who suffer from depression. I hope it helps friends…
“How to Help a Loved One When They’re Depressed”
It is incredibly difficult to watch someone you love go through depression. Depression is a disease that doesn’t operate within the normal bounds of reason. The chemical imbalances in the brain of a person who suffers from depression put them into a different mode of existence, where little things might seem like the end of the world, or it might be difficult to get excited about the big things, at all. Indeed there’s a reason that depression can be so closely linked to substance abuse. According to some studies, as many as half of the people with depression may also struggle with a substance abuse or addiction disorder at some point in their lives.
However, this doesn’t mean that a depressed person has to be resigned to living a life of sadness and repressed emotions. By using effective coping skills and learning to manage their mind, people all over the world live fulfilling lives, despite the effects of depression. Here are some key things that you can do to help a loved one who struggles with depression…
Don’t use shame to fight depression:
Shame is a tool that is too often utilized when it comes to our intercourse with mental illness. What makes this a real shame is that it doesn’t really work. You can’t shame someone into getting over the way that depression makes them feel. Phrases like “just be happy” don’t do anything to actually mitigate the effects of depression, which are caused by real and tangible chemical imbalances in the brain, and instead, work to make your loved one feel like they are understood, not more alienated. As you can imagine, this doesn’t work towards improving healthy habits that are able to help them cope with depression.
Small acts of kindness go a long way:
We don’t need a big sweeping gesture that shows the people we love that we are willing to help in their struggle with depression. Instead, it’s important to remember that little acts of kindness can build up to make a person feel respected and appreciated. Don’t only offer these kind gestures towards your loved one, but encourage them to do the same for other people. There are studies that show that small acts of kindness actually are able to increase the happiness of the person who carries them out.
Encourage professional help:
It can be hard for people to determine when depression requires the help of a professional. However, it’s important to realize that someone who is severely depressed will never seek the help of a professional themselves. That’s just the nature of the disease; when you’re in it, you can’t find hope that it will get better. Do whatever you can to urge your loved one to seek help, since you know that there are numerous ways today that we can help to manage the symptoms of depression.
Don’t undermine their experiences
Even though the overwhelming feelings of a person with depression may be caused by the actual chemical effects of depression, rather than external factors, it is still important to understand that those feelings are still real, whether they are rational or not. Depression can be a part of a person’s existence, and even though it is important to learn coping skills to deal with the weight that depression can be on a person’s shoulders, it is also important to not undermine these experiences. Instead, just listen or give them their space. You don’t need to fix everything at every moment.
Encourage healthy habits
Because depression has to do with brain chemistry, it is very beneficial for a person with depression to be engaging in healthy behavior that improves brain balance, such as dieting, exercising, or eliminating the toxins in their body. This can be difficult since depression, by its very nature, can get in the way of doing important life things, including just eating at all. What you can do, as a person who loves them is encourage the healthy habits that are going to make them feel better, in the long run. While depression can undermine the desire to do such things, be persistent and know that it will help them.
Don’t expect quick fixes
If you are looking for a quick fix to get rid of the effects of depression, then you should probably hang up the cape right now and save yourself the time. Combatting depression takes time and is a battle of a bunch of little things, rather than any one big thing that gets rid of the entire problem.
Just be there
Sometimes, you don’t have to actually do anything. Feeling like you have to constantly be “fixing” this person because of their depression is just going to have the opposite effect that you want. Sometimes, just being there and not doing anything counterproductive is going to mean the world to them.
“Presented by Recovery Starts Here! ~ Author, Catherine Lyon”