Depression is a serious mental health condition, and it’s important to know how to care for people who are experiencing it. Whether you are a professional caregiver or a family caregiver, there are many things you can do to help your loved one.
1. Be a good listener
The best way to help someone who is struggling with depression is to simply be a compassionate and understanding listener. Often, just talking with someone is enough to make them feel better. Don’t expect a single conversation to fix everything, and don’t try to pressure your friend or family member into changing their behaviors.
2. Get treatment for your depression
Talking with a qualified professional is the best way to determine what’s causing your symptoms and what you can do to get help. The doctor can help you find the right treatment for your depression, including medications and psychotherapy.
3. Set boundaries for yourself
It can be tempting to try to keep up with the demands of a depressed loved one, but it’s important to set limits and take some time to relax. Staying on track with your own routine and making sure you have time to rest will help you stay healthy and recharged, so you can be a better caregiver.
4. Avoid enabling behaviours
It is common to enable someone who is depressed, especially out of love or concern. You may be tempted to give up on a difficult situation or avoid your loved one, but enabling will only make your loved one feel worse. It also puts the burden on them to get help, which can lead them to resent you and stop seeking help.
5. Offer encouragement to be active and eat well
Encouragement to be physically active, eat healthy, and socialise with friends can be a great help to those with depression. However, remember that these activities can be hard for someone who is depressed and they may need to work on their own to feel comfortable with them.
6. Be patient and support the person’s recovery from depression
It takes a while for a person with depression to recover, so it is important to be supportive of their healing process as long as they want to be. It may be helpful to ask them if they have any changes or challenges they are dealing with, as these can help you know when you need to check in on them.
7. Be a positive role model
You can help your loved one by being an example of how to live well with depression. Providing positive feedback and encouraging them to seek support from other resources can be helpful, as it shows them that they can cope and recover from their situation.
8. Help them manage their medication
Taking medication is a common part of treatment for depression. Your loved one may need to take antidepressants for weeks to feel the benefits, so be there to offer support and monitor any side effects. It is also a good idea to have a conversation with them about the medication and how it’s making them feel.