How to Live with a Depressed Person?

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Being guided by the most benevolent motives and trying to help the nearest person suffering from depression, we often make mistakes. What are they and how to avoid them?

First of all, we can help him/her recognize the symptoms of this disorder (insomnia, irritability, isolation, depression, causeless tears), take them seriously, and seek treatment. We can suggest accompanying him/her during his visit to the doctor.

At the same time, we must pay attention to our own state: are we strong enough to help others? Depression often affects those who are in the patient’s immediate environment. Taking on too many obligations, we run the risk of getting desperate, thus failing to help the person. And vice versa: taking care of ourselves, we do not display selfishness. We maintain our energy and vigor in order to continue to love and sympathize with other people.

It is also important to avoid mistakes, made by those who are not familiar with the diagnosis of depression. They often try to encourage a person, but only hurt him/her more.

How to behave? Having survived depression, English writer Matt Haig advises the following.

Remember that the person needs you, even if you feel the other way.

Listen.

Never say “pull yourself together” or “cheer up” unless you are going to give a detailed instruction on how to do so.

Remember that depression is a disease. The patient can say the opposite of what he really means.

Try to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. What seems simple to you (like going to a store) can be an unbearable test for a depressed person.

Do not take depression as an insult, treat it like the flu, a chronic fatigue syndrome or arthritis. This is not your fault.

Be patient. It will not be easy. It will not be stable either. There will be ups and downs. It is not necessary to consider someone’s good/bad acts as the proof of recovery/deterioration. Prepare for a long journey.

Ask what you can do to help. But the main thing is just to be there.

Remove pressure from life or work, if possible.

One more piece of advice from us – google the phrase “face of depression”, and you will understand how serious and sometimes inconspicuous for the surrounding people this disease may be.

Try to make sure that the depressed person does not feel “stranger” than now. Three days on the couch? Crying, taking a difficult decision about which pair of socks to wear? This is not a problem. There is no standard of being normal. The concept of the norm is subjective. On this planet, there are seven billion variations of being normal!

How to help a person with depression?

Let’s find out how to behave if your near person is suffering from depression.

The stories of a partner suffering from depression often begin like this. My husband does not look sick. In his life, there have been no terrible events. Just a couple of small troubles. Well, there is tension at work, to which he is accustomed so much that he seems to be born and raised under tension. And then there’s insomnia. He’s lying all weekends long. He is constantly chewing something. Maybe, he’s just tired?

His wife is not used to giving up, so she tried to cheer him up as best as she could. But any suggestion of hers was irritating him. She did not know what he could be interested in and what could make him happy. He did not like much of what she said, cooked or did. She stopped understanding him. He himself could hardly explain anything to her.

She felt embarrassed for the joy and pleasure which her life gave her. She felt ashamed to do sports and meet friends. She felt guilty about what she could not help with.

Being near a depressed person is hard. We have to face and bear not only the person, but also his/her own feelings of sadness, sorrow, despair, and helplessness. And it’s not an easy thing to do.

How to help a person with depression?

Rule 1. Take care of yourself

This is the most important rule when your loved one is depressed.

The first impulse is always to show maximum concern for the other person. But in this situation, you become a source of emotions for the nearest ones, and your good mood is the ability to cheer up a close person and help him/her get rid of depression.

It is important to take care of your nutrition, sleep, rest and pleasures with great care. Try to openly tell about your success and achievements at work and share the news. Tell about how you went to a club or an exhibition with friends, how you walked in the park, skated on roller skates or ate ice cream. Do this even when there appears a desire to conceal your pleasure, which is inevitable.

This will give the person an opportunity to rejoice and get rid of the fact that he is a burden to the family. Your happiness, communication, success will remind your closest people about the good things in life that are available at any time.

You do not have the right to sacrifice your dreams for the sake of a dear person’s depression.

You will not necessarily succeed. Sometimes you will feel that you are not doing well. Maybe you will cry. You will be angry and offended. It’s important to find some suitable ways for yourself to relieve stress and tension: running, walking with a dog, yoga or something. Have your own support. Maybe, it’s worth thinking about visiting a psychologist during this period.

Rule 2. Take it seriously

Depression is not just a person’s bad mood when he/she lies and does not want to do anything. Depression is a disease that should be taken seriously.

Therefore, do not blame the loved one for being lazy. He is sick, and he really does not have the strength. Do not blame him for grumbling – he is sick and cannot rejoice. Do not call him a loser and a fool – he is sick, and his thinking processes are inhibited.

You cannot take your loved one to a doctor or psychologist, but you can offer him this opportunity by finding a specialist. Try to convince the nearest person that depression is not something one has to be ashamed of and that it can happen to anyone.

Rule 3. Keep an eye on the diet

Depression often leads to wrong dieting. Either a person eats very little because he ceases to experience the pleasure of eating, or the person begins to eat everything, giving preference to fats and sweets.

Take care of yourself and the near person by organizing a proper healthy diet with enough protein, fat and complex carbohydrates. It is important not to forget about the variety of cereals, meat, and fish while trying to complement the dishes with vegetables. It is good to always have fresh fruit instead of sweets and cakes. If possible, minimize coffee and eliminate alcohol.

You cannot force your loved one to eat, but you can always prepare food for him/her, lay the table and invite the partner to eat with you.

Rule 4. Restore sleep

Just like with food, a person either sleeps for a long time or has early awakenings. He/she either sleeps very little or sleeps for 10-12 hours a day and is ready to always lie in bed.

One hour before the person goes to sleep, you can fill a bath with relaxing aromatic oils, alternating it with a relaxing massage every other day. Let him/her drink warm herbal tea at night. If you want to, play pleasant quiet music. Do not disturb the dear person when he/she has already gone to bed. All the serious conversations should be postponed till the next day.

You cannot make the person sleep, but you can create a relaxing atmosphere that will help him/her fall asleep more quickly.

Rule 5. Do everything together

In the case of depression, a person becomes passive, and therefore it is very important to help him/her maintain at least the current activity, trying to slightly expand it.

Unobtrusively suggest to your close person various joint activities, which do not require significant physical, emotional or mental effort. Depending on the situation, you can think of a joint walk through the park; help with dinner, such as peeling vegetables while you are cooking a new dish; it could be watching a movie or helping with a shared apartment cleaning…

Try not to make this activity a burdening duty and a boring routine. One more thing: it is important to help the person feel he/she brings real benefit and help, so do not forget to be thankful.

You cannot force a partner to work with you, but at the same time, you can suggest sharing with you this or that easy and pleasant activity.

Rule 6. Arrange pleasures

In depression, a person loses the ability to experience pleasure in life, so it is important to take care of what used to bring joy earlier.

The simplest things can be helpful here: bowling or billiards, hiking or a trip to the nearest suburbs with you or with your friends for fishing; a trip to a water park or to the sauna. Visit relatives and friends, who live in other cities.

You can seriously think about having a puppy at home. It will have to be taken care of; you will have to play with it, and it will require daily walks.

If the close person does not mind, you can invite friends to your home and arrange a memorable evening, watch a movie or a match together, ordering pizza for everyone. It is better to start from the previous hobbies that the person used to have.

Not all your proposals will be accepted and approved, but it is important to help the person participate in all these pleasures.

Rule 7. Be patient

A person in depression can experience very different and sometimes very contradictory feelings. His/her mood can quickly change from pity and tears to anger, from humiliation and guilt to accusations.

Be ready to face anger and to be shouted at. Try not to react to these emotions and leave the room quietly not to escalate the conflict that arises.

Be ready for tears and sobbing. Try to choose the words of consolation.

Remember that if a person, suffering from depression, shows feelings in your presence, even the most negative ones, this is a very good sign, however strange this may sound. You are not repelled, you are considered close and trusted so much that the person shares all his/her experiences with you.

You can fail to fully comfort the person, but at the same time you can accept his/her feelings and react to them.

Rule 8. Reduce the requirements

You hope that if you strictly follow all these rules and support the dear person with all your heart and with all your strength, one morning he will laugh and say to you: “Yes! How beautiful life is! I’m completely healthy!”

Unfortunately, this may not happen or will not happen as quickly as you want. This unjustified expectation can serve as a cause for despair and a sense of impotence. Sometimes the loveliest photos of cats and the most hilarious comedies will not cause any emotion in a person, and you will fail.

It is important to be aware of your own limitations. Not everything depends on you.

Learn to see the smallest success and changes in the person’s mood and behavior: a fleeting smile, a desire to walk with you, take part in something, and go somewhere. Believe that even such trifles matter.

Remind the person that his/her condition is temporary, that you are always there to help. And just stay close.

It’s difficult when your loved one is depressed. It is such a disease that it undermines the strength of everyone suffering from it and just staying near, so you should be careful with this dangerous enemy. Be interested, read more about this disease. Ask for help and take care of yourself.