How to love someone with depression
23 February 2023
Is someone you care about experiencing a prolonged period of sadness? They may be suffering from depression. Loving someone with depression may be one of the most difficult things that you have to undertake. However, despite the challenges, you can be their anchor of hope, survival, and perhaps even recovery.
In this article, we will help you determine if someone you love may be suffering from depression and how to love someone with depression.
How To Recognize Depression
Depression manifests differently across individuals but there are some common signs that you can watch out for:
- Mood swings
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Changes in appetite
- Lack of energy
- Mind fog
- Suicidal thoughts
Depression may be more obvious in some than others but recognizing it is vital for addressing it and any underlying causes. Sometimes, there are reasons why a person feels depressed but this isn’t always the case. Clinical depression or major depressive disorder, for example, doesn’t have any apparent triggers. If you notice that your loved one has been having problems with work, school, relationships, and social activities for some time, it’s important to address the condition.
Accept and Address Depression
After reviewing the list above, you may have reasons to believe that someone you care about has depression. The next step is to accept the issue and address it properly. This can be a difficult and sensitive process, but with the right approach, you can help the person get the support they need to recover. Here’s what you should keep in mind:
Listen and Validate Their Feelings
Try to get your loved one to talk about their feelings. Once they do, keep an open mind and don’t minimize what they’re going through. Stay away from phrases that invalidate their suffering like “snap out of it,” “cheer up,” “this is just in your head,” and “try harder.”
Instead, tell them you care about them, ask how you might help, and show them you understand.
Encourage Them To Seek Help
When someone is depressed, they aren’t likely to have the motivation or the energy to look for doctors and get outside help. You may be their best chance at getting the help they need. This means looking for a psychiatrist who can help and even scheduling a consultation. As much as possible, make sure that they attend the appointment and offer to accompany them.
Be Patient and Understanding
Depression can last for several months and even years so it’s important that you don’t rush recovery or expect overnight results. Instead, give the person the patience, understanding, and hope they need so that they can be in a more optimistic frame of mind.
Avoid Blaming and Judging Them
Whether depression is caused by a stressful life event or an imbalance in the brain, avoid blaming and judging the person. Though we know that stress, history, and genetics play a part, the exact cause of clinical depression remains a mystery. Blame and judgment help no one, least of all the person you love.
Take Care of Yourself
Supporting a person experiencing depression is difficult. In many cases, unhealthy behaviors are transferred to the caregiver. If you find yourself being more pessimistic, withdrawn, critical of others, sleeping too little or too much, and withdrawing from your friends, you need to take a break and take care of your needs so that you can continue being there for the person you care about.
Remember, depression is treatable. With the right care and support, it’s possible to overcome it and reclaim happiness and well-being.
When someone you love has depression, knowing what you’re up against can help immensely. It’s best if you can learn about the mental health condition together so the person doesn’t feel like they’re battling depression on their own.
Read Up on Depression
There’s a wealth of information about depression from books and articles to support groups and online resources. Reading up on the condition can help you understand what they’re going through and how you can support them.
Attend Therapy Together
If your partner is seeing a therapist, consider attending a session or two together. This can be a great opportunity to learn more about the condition and how you can support your loved one.
Join a Support Group
There are support groups for family members and partners of people with depression. Attending their meetings can provide you with a supportive community as well as a chance to learn more about depression and how to support the person you care about.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Talk to them about their experience with depression and listen to their perspective. Ask questions, offer support, and be an active participant in the process of learning and healing.
By learning together, you can strengthen your relationship and provide the support they need to recover. You are in this together and a show of solidarity can be very affirming.
How To Show Affection to Someone Struggling With Depression
When your loved one is going through a tough time, it can be hard to know how to show your affection. But, with a bit of patience and a lot of love, you can make a big difference. Here are a few things you can do to let someone know you care:
Be a Good Listener
When they open up about what they’re going through, give them your full attention. Let them talk, validate their feelings, and be there to support them.
Give Them Space
Depression can make it hard for someone to be sociable or express their emotions. Be patient and understanding when they need some alone time.
Small gestures of love can go a long way. Write them a poem, make them breakfast in bed, or simply hold their hand.
Cheer Them On
Encouraging self-care is crucial for your partner’s well-being. Cheer them on as they take care of themselves whether it’s going for a run, practicing meditation, or simply taking a nap.
Offer To Help
Whether it’s doing the dishes, driving them to an appointment, or simply being there to offer a hug, offer to help in any way you can.
If you suspect that your partner may be struggling with depression, it’s important to approach the topic with empathy and understanding. Encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional and offer support in any way you can.
Watching someone you love go through depression is hard but acknowledging and learning about the problem can help you deal with it and learn to overcome it. Be patient and offer love and support but take care of yourself as well.
IMANA provides resources that can help with depression and other mental health problems. Through our website, you can find professionals and health-related articles so you and your loved one can take the first step towards healing.