Depression is extremely common, in fact it is one of the most common illnesses GP’s see every day. Depression can be mild, moderate or severe and a sufferer can be engulfed by depression at any time; an important note to remember at this point is sufferers of depression have no control over their symptoms or the severity of them, and in this respect it is no different from a physical illness.
It can be difficult when someone you love is suffering from depression especially if you have no experience or understanding of the illness. You many feel awful when someone talks to you about being depressed and you may want to look away or walk away, you may not be sure what to say and it’s OK if you don’t understand. The only thing I would ask is please don’t ignore it. The more support the sufferer has, the quicker the recovery.
So what do you do if you want to help someone with depression?
Ten things that may help a sufferer of depression:
- Lower your expectation of what the sufferer can achieve for a little while, this is not a forever thing.
- Support them with the small things that he or she achieves.
- Tell them if you don’t understand what it is like.
- Let them tell you how it feels and don’t interrupt them.
- Don’t ignore them.
- Don’t highlight the negative.
- Don’t be angry, they are not trying to irritate you.
- Tell them you care.
- Give them a hug
- Tell them they are important to you.
If you show that you care and you are trying to understand, it gives the sufferer a strong base to recover from, it helps them to explore their feelings and understand where their depression comes from. This will give them strategies to control their symptoms and enjoy a fuller life.
Things not to do or say:
- Pull yourself together.
- You don’t have a real illness!!
- Don’t tell them there are people worse off than you – it doesn’t help I promise.
- Stop feeling sorry for yourself
- Do not tell them it’s their own fault
- Do not tell them that you feel their depression is coming between your relationships
- Have you tried chamomile tea?
These type of comments create feelings of stigma, sufferers feel as though they are being weak, in the way, not worth anything, do you really want them to feel that way?
For those of you that have been lucky enough to have never suffered from this awful illness, I ask you directly to try and find out a little more about it this week and give thought to the crushing darkness that your loved ones may be experiencing.
Helpful sites for more information
- www.mentalhealth.org.uk › Help & Information › Mental Health AZ