Updated: May 11, 2021
As someone who has dealt with depression for almost a decade now I know just how debilitating it can be. On some days it can be hard to even get out of bed or do small things like showering or doing laundry
It can also be hard for the people who love us to watch us suffer. I often get asked what to do for a person dealing with a depressive episode. Listed below are 5 things that friends and family have done to help.
1. Listen empathetically. When I’m experiencing depression sometimes all I need is a friend to talk to. Validate their feelings by saying things like, “I see that you’re going through a hard time right now, and I am here for you.” A big thing to remember is to not go into what I call “fix it mode”. Generally, a depressed person doesn’t want you to offer them suggestions or ways they can feel better.
2. Reach out. I have a friend that knows my struggles with mental health and checks in every so often. If you haven’t heard from someone in awhile it may be because they are struggling. When I’m depressed it’s very difficult for me to maintain my relationships because of my exhaustion and feelings of overwhelm. My friend simply texts me and asks how I am and provides me a safe space to share how I am truly doing.
3. Offer kind words. Often times depression lies to us. I know that my thoughts about myself tend to become very negative during an episode. My self- talk becomes very harsh, and I have a hard time remembering what I even like about myself. A simple card, call or text of encouragement can go a long way. My husband will often tell me what he loves about me, and I feel so much better even if for a brief moment.
4. Be Patient. It can be hard to watch a loved one go through depression. They often may not seem like themselves. When I’m depressed I change in many ways. I often sleep longer, eat more and have a generally sad demeanor. Sometimes this can last for days. The people in my life show me patience through their actions and words. They give me the space to be myself, and work through my episode by not pushing me to “get better.”
5. Offer to help with daily tasks. Doing small things such as showering, washing dishes or clothes can become a monumental task. Depression often takes much of your energy making it hard to function. Something that I’ve found to be incredibly helpful is when someone offers to do my laundry. During a difficult episode the laundry build up and becomes overwhelming so I avoid it for weeks.
Offer to pick up a load or two of laundry and take it to a laundry mat like The Clothes Spin. The Clothes Spin is a safe, clean environment that’s open 24 hours, giving you the convenience of washing whenever needed. If you're looking for a laundromat near Appomattox, VA they are the one to visit!
6. Take Care of Yourself. Being around someone struggling with depression can be very hard on you personally. As much as you may love the person it can be draining. A depressed person may have low energy and have negative thoughts they share with you. Setting boundaries like how much time you spend together and when you are available is crucial to caring for yourself. Not creating boundaries can lead to burnout on your end, and then you may start to resent the person.
The good news is that depression is absolutely treatable and people do recover. It may take some time, but with the right treatment people can live meaningful, productive lives. Part of recovery is having a strong support system. I know that the one thing that helps me the most is having my loved ones by my side during my dark periods. Their kind words and unconditional love are crucial to my healing. I wouldn't be where I am today without my family and friends.
I’m curious how do you help someone in your life struggling with depression? What ways do you care for yourself as well?