Do’s and Don’ts of Supporting Someone with Depression
Depression is not easy. It is complicated and different for each person who struggles with it. Sometimes, I wonder if people really understand how debilitating it can be. Depression is not just being sad or down in the dumps. It is typically a long term struggle with physical side effects. Depression can make it difficult to leave your house or hold a job. However, even if you are able to maintain those things, it can severely affect your interpersonal relationships. So, if you are living with someone who has depression there are a few things you should know.
Don’t: Say “just get over it”.
Hearing someone you care about say to you, “pull up your bootstraps” or “get over it” or “I just can’t deal with you” is difficult for someone who is just struggling with bad day. Imagine what it might feel like for someone who has been depressed for a few months. These are the kinds of things people with depression hear all the time and it hurts. Don’t make your loved one feel like they are a burden.
Do: Provide some emotional support.
You don’t have to stop and drop all of your commitments to be the sole person of contact for your loved one dealing with depression. However, it is a good idea to give them a shoulder to cry on every once and a while. Sometimes just being there to listen is enough to make an otherwise unbearable day slightly more bearable.
Do: Try to understand.
Depression is more than just a bad mood. It can include physical symptoms like loss of energy, insomnia, or significant weight changes. It can also cause things like inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness, lack of interest in anything that used to bring joy, or even suicidal thoughts. It is so much more than just having a bad day or being sad. Try to understand how the things you say or do may impact your loved one.
Don’t Negate, Validate.
This one is simple. Don’t belittle their symptoms or feelings. Try to be there for them, understand where they are coming from and validate their feelings as real. Sometimes you may not be able to understand where they are coming from and that is fine. However, even if you “just don’t get it” let your loved one know that you understand what they are feeling is real.