Suffering from depression can be an agonizing experience and watching someone else struggle through it can be just as hard. We want to alleviate our friends and family of the pain, but many times it is hard to know how to help someone who is suffering from depression. To avoid any actions that might create tension between you and the person you are trying to help it can be good to keep some things in mind.
Reassure the person by explaining to them why you love and or respect them. You have to make it perfectly clear that your intention is to build them up and in no way to hurt them. While it might be easy to challenge a person with their shortcomings in attempt to correct whatever you see as a harmful habit, it can also cause a person to become defensive and unresponsive. It has to be clear to them that whatever you are doing is in their best interest.
While depression is an internal struggle, it affects the people around the depressed person as much as it does them. Large interventions may have its place, but a depressed person’s greatest eye opener comes when they are confronted by a key person in their life that they love and or respect. A person suffering from depression can go years without acknowledging the problem and be oblivious to it. It can be easy to say the world hates me, nothing matters and I am always going to be miserable. So easy, that a person rarely sees how their emotional state affects the people around them. Once, confronted with ideas that challenge their long held distorted belief of the world, a positive change can manifest itself.
If you have cast judgment on the person’s life choices, friends, and job be sure to keep it to yourself. At least for the time being, as the first stage of helping someone with depression is to build a line of communication. Both sides need to be open to challenging their preconceived ideas and be willing to see reality from the other persons view. It will help the process if you can find unique ideas, ideals, or things that will motivate your friend to change for the better.
Ultimately, your goal is to break the person’s armour of anger and sadness enough to get them to see a need for change. Forcing them to make changes that they don’t want to make will only create anger and resentment. Threats and cajoling will only let the person find more reasons not to change.
Once you have an opening, be ready to give them the information they need. This includes how you or people you know found help when they faced a similar situation. It can be the name of a good therapist, book, medication or group. You are giving them a place to start.
Although, you are hoping for the best, a person needs to be ready to be disappointed. People are creatures of habit, and although contentment and happiness are great goals, for many it is a lofty one. It can take multiple starts with different motivations for someone to finally receive help and find the solutions to their depression.