Strengthening a family member who is diagnosed with depression can be daunting. You might feel powerless and don’t know what else to do. Learn ways on how to provide support and knowledge and help a loved one acquire the proper resources to deal with their depression. Here are some things you can do.
Know More About The Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of depression vary from individual to individual. These include tiredness or lack of energy at even the small activities, sudden outbursts of anger and irritability, feelings of hopelessness and sadness, insomnia, anxiety, appetite loss, or heightened cravings for different kinds of food, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, and frequent suicidal thoughts, among others.
For most individuals with depression, the symptoms are typically intense enough to lead to obvious problems with activities of daily living, like at school, work, relationships, and social activities. Others might be more miserable or sad without really knowing the reason why. Teens and kids may be more cranky and short-tempered rather than down and gloomy.
Individuals who have depression may be unable to acknowledge that they are indeed depressed. They might even be unaware of the warning signs of depression so they would actually think that what they are feeling is normal. Also, they feel embarrassed about their illness and pretend to believe that they must surpass the illness on their own. But in truth, depression rarely becomes better without any complementary treatment. In fact, it might even worsen. With the proper treatment, your loved one will heal, recover, and get better.
What can you do to help your depressed family member?
- Express to your loved one your concern about the symptoms that you have noticed.
- Tell him or her gently that depression is something that is medical, not a weakness that was caused by her, and emphasize that there is a treatment for it.
- Encourage your loved one to ask for help from a mental health professional – a counselor, psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist.
- Let your loved one feel that you are there for him by going with him to his doctor’s appointments or just being with him when he needs someone to talk to.
Know The Signs To Watch Out For In Severe Depression
Everybody experiences different signs of depression. Keep an eye on your beloved family member. Read more about how the illness impacts him and learn tips and strategies on what to do when his depression worsens.
Things to consider:
- What usual depressive signs and symptoms does your family member present with?
- What kind of behaviors or type of language have you observed when depression is severe?
- What situations can trigger your loved one’s depressive condition?
- Are there activities that your loved one can do to help decrease depressive symptoms?
Severe depression must be treated promptly. Encourage your family member to see his mental health provider so that they can discuss a treatment plan for his illness. His mental health provider might require him to make adjustments to his medications, visit a psychotherapist, and give more attention to his health – his food, activities, and his hours of sleep.
Give The Support He Needs
Keep in mind that your family member’s debilitating illness is not his or your family’s fault. You can’t possibly cure your loved one’s depression, but you can definitely provide the support and understanding that he needs. If he is currently being treated for depression, perhaps you can remind him about taking his medications and keep up with his appointments. You must also be there to listen to him. Let him feel that you understand him – or you want to. However, try to avoid giving unsolicited advice or judging him. Listening and understanding him is more than enough help.
If you have extra time, you can offer to take care of other chores that he might not be able to do because of his treatments. Cook a meal for him or his children. Help with the laundry or do the dishes if he’s too down or preoccupied. In this way, you are helping him create a less stressful environment, which in turn reduces his symptoms.
Lastly, if your loved one is open to emotional or spiritual healing, encourage him to participate in activities that would help him express his faith, whether it be joining a religious organization or a group of close friends who are into prayer and meditation.
As for you, as a family member, supporter, and loved one, what you can do is learn about the illness, as the more you understand the definition, causes, signs and symptoms, and many more about depression, the more helpful you can be.
Also, you must not forget to take care of yourself. Helping someone overcome depression is quite daunting. Ask help from others and take the necessary steps to prevent you from getting depressed or frustrated yourself. Find relaxing activities or hobbies that would interest you. Finally, remember that patience is a virtue. Depression does get better with treatment but it doesn’t happen overnight. Find the best treatment program. For some, symptoms improve fast after a few weeks of treatment. For others, it might take longer.