Being close to a loved one who is suffering from depression is incredibly difficult. All we want to do is help. When it becomes clear that you can’t take the pain away, it is easy to become frustrated.
Try to keep in mind that your loved one is dealing with an illness and you are probably not trained to handle their recovery alone. There are things you can offer to support them on their journey back towards health and happiness.
Understanding That Professional Support is Needed.
Depression is a serious medical condition; it requires treatment from a trained professional. Do not try and take on the depression of a loved one on your own. Yes, call family or close friends to give support. However, it is paramount that you understand that this illness will need medical treatment, just as they were facing a cancer diagnosis. The longer they avoid treatment, the worse the depression could become and the harder to get back to feeling well. If they do not recognise how necessary treatment is, do your best to help them understand.
Often loved ones suffering from depression are the topic of conversation, but not part of it. It is not enough to talk to other family members or friends to discuss how concerned you are about your loved one. Offering practical support like driving them to their appointments or directly lending a listening ear can be helpful. Those suffering from depression often feel very lonely and isolated, so reach out as best as you can.
Help Your Loved One Stay Connected.
Those dealing with depression often start to lose interest in things they find enjoyable. You can support them by encouraging them to stay active and take part with them. The key is to be patient and committed. You cannot force your loved one to take you up on an invitation. Should they say no to your invite fifty times, try not to give up. Try to continue to extend your hand.
Learn as much about depression as you possibly can. Speak with a psychotherapist to get recommendations for resources that will help you learn more. For example, there is an excellent book for those in a relationship with someone dealing with depression, “Depression Fallout” by Anne Sheffield.
Experiencing a loved one suffering from depression is painful. Sometimes being around someone who is experiencing depression is very challenging. You may need support for yourself.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring this further and feel as if depression is affecting your relationship, please contact me. I would be happy to speak with both of you about how I may be able to help. I offer appointments from my office in Hove and online.