Caring For a Loved One Suffering From Depression

Depression is a challenging illness, and those who want to care for a loved one with depression may often feel at a loss with how to best provide help and healthy concern. It’s not always easy, but encouragement, assistance and friendship can go a long way in helping someone with depression. If you suspect a loved one is depressed, read on for six ways you can show up with understanding and support.

loved one with depression

Make a Care Package

When depressed, it can be difficult to take care of day-to-day tasks due to a lack of energy or interest. Basic responsibilities often require a great deal of effort to complete. While you may not be able to help someone with all aspects of self-care, you can ease the burden with a few thoughtful products or favors. A good care package simply lets someone know you’re thinking of them. Think of secondary self care items that could provide some relief of symptoms, such as calming bath salts, a favorite healthy snack, probiotics for skin health, a soothing candle or a soft blanket.

Show Up to Listen

Many people suffering with depression feel isolated and alone in their struggle. One of the greatest gifts you can give a loved one with depression is a listening ear. Your loved one may not want to talk about their feelings, but even a lighter conversation about their likes, dislikes, thoughts, dreams or personal, current events in which you demonstrate active listening skills can make an impact. 

Help Around the House

Depression can interrupt your sleep schedule, change your appetite, cause a loss of interest in certain activities and make it challenging to focus or maintain mental clarity. Often, people with depression have a hard time keeping up with the laundry and dishes. Instead of asking if you can come over to provide an extra set of helping hands, set up a visit in which you show up to do these things without being asked. To be sure, always check in before starting any tasks around the house, or simply offer to work alongside the person while you listen to a favorite band or uplifting podcast together. 

Adjust Expectations

Those with depression may reject invitations or seem socially distant, but it’s not personal. They may be having a hard time recalling commitments or engagements, or they may simply lack the energy to show up to a party or gathering. It’s not for a lack of want, and some people with depression can experience compounded, inner shame for their perceived inability to maintain relationships, stay on top of tasks at work or keep up their hobbies. 

It’s important to remember that depression is to blame for their low energy and hopelessness. While they’re going through a tough time, communicate positive understanding and sympathy. As well, keep reaching out if you’re able. Your loved one may not be able to show up in the same ways they used to, but with realistic expectations in place, you can show them that your support and friendship is unconditional.

Encourage Treatment

Depression is a medical condition, and it’s rarely overcome without intervention. In fact, in many cases depression can worsen without proper treatment. Many people don’t always realize they have depression, and can believe their feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and irritability are routine and normal. 

Explain to your loved one that you’ve noticed a change in their mood and behavior. Ask them how they’re feeling and offer your own support. Let them know depression is a condition, and not a weakness, and encourage them to speak with a doctor or therapist who can help. There is nothing wrong with someone with depression, but outside support can help them to better cope with the challenges that come along with the condition.

Be Patient Towards a Loved One With Depression 

Healing is not a linear process. There will be times where your loved one may seem to have recovered, only for their symptoms to seemingly flare up out of nowhere the next day. Patience is crucial when helping someone with depression. Treatment will take time and some experimentation, but your willingness to endure by their side will be an asset to their recovery. 

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Kevin Gardner

Kevin Gardner loves writing about technology and the impact it has on our lives, especially within businesses.