When someone you’re close struggles with depression, it can leave you feeling confused and frustrated yourself. But you aren’t helpless.
It’s normal to feel helpless if you have a friend, partner or family member suffering from undiagnosed or untreated depression, but there are ways you can help.
- Recognise the symptoms. Just by knowing the signs of depression, you can be a great help to a loved one or friend who may not be able to recognise it themselves.
- Tell the depressed person that he or she deserves to feel better, that they’re loved and will feel better with proper treatment
- In the case of a depressed child or adolescent, set up treatment. For adult friends or family, convince the depressed person to see a doctor who can help.
- If the depressed person is functional and refuses treatment, ask others for help – such as friends, a doctor, a church leader, or relatives.
- If the depressed person is battling to function, go with them to treatment until they’re able to get to appointments on their own.
- Recommend support groups and other resources that offer assistance.
- If the depressed person is too young or ill to provide important information to the therapist, act as a go-between as long as needed.
- If the depressed person is having hallucinations or delusions, or is suicidal, speak to the doctor and arrange for hospitalisation.
- Be patient and don’t give up too soon: the depressed person may have to hear more than once, and from several people, that he or she deserves to feel better and can get there with the proper treatment.
- If all efforts to encourage the depressed person to seek treatment have failed, and the depressed person is having a demoralising effect on those around, parents of a depressed adult can clarify, with the help of a mental health specialist, how to proceed.
Do your research
It helps to educate yourself about depression. Once you understand depression’s symptoms, treatments and consequences, you are better able to support a loved one. Remember: just asking how you can help and being can be an incredible gift. For more information on the signs and symptoms, visit our Depression page.
Joanne Hart for HelloDoctor.com