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How To Help Someone Who’s Depressed

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Depression is real and it is important to recognize the need to help the person suffering from clinical depression. What your loved one has (if they are suffering from depression) is a medical condition and supporting them does not just mean offering them a shoulder or a lap to cry on.
Jackie Gollan from the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, a Ph.D., assistant professor observed, “There are many things you can do to make them feel better.” This is obviously in addition to the medical help they will be requiring.

It is important to keep patience with the person going through depression. Losing patience and getting or irritated or frustrated with them will only end up making things worse- it will not help to “cure” it at all. Gollan explains, “People that are depressed can’t sleep it off; they can’t avoid it. You can give care and support, but it’s not going to solve the problem.”

The best that can be done for someone with depression is to support them in their treatment. They should be told that they should take their condition seriously, and not ignore it. Golan further explains, “If someone breaks their leg, they are taken to a doctor or hospital. If someone has depression, they need medical care and psychosocial support.”

Make sure they don’t feel alone, let them know you are there for them. You can offer to be a listener to what they are going through or offer to drive them to therapy or treatment. Golan “This can reduce the risk of suicide. Listen carefully for signs of hopelessness and pessimism, and don’t be afraid to call a treatment provider for help or even take them to the ER if their safety is in question.”

If you are not living with the person, call or visit them regularly; invite them over to do various activities together. Depressed people draw themselves into a shell as they don’t want to “bother” anyone. It might require extra effort on your part to draw the depressed person out of their cocoon. Gollan says, “Activities that promote a sense of accomplishment, reward, or pleasure are directly helpful in improving depression. Choose something that the person finds interesting.” However, if you don’t find them interested in it don’t be disheartened. Make sure they have a routine which promotes a nutritious diet, exercise and a good amount of sleep.

Gollan adds, “Depressive avoidance and passivity can be reduced through activation [to help the person regain a sense of reward] and small goals of accomplishment.” Acknowledge and praise their small day to day achievements. Even if it’s something as small as something getting out of the bed. “Blogs are pretty risky unless you are sure the sources are reliable.”