Depression affects people both young and old. It is a serious disorder, but treatable. For the person with depression, it can mess up their everyday life and have a ripple effect impacting everyone around them. If you find yourself caring for someone with depression you may experience a roller-coaster of emotions. You might sense a feeling of helplessness, sadness, anger or frustration. In helping a family member or friend with depression, and depending on the severity of the condition, it can be challenging and exhausting. Your own health may get neglected, especially if you find yourself overwhelmed by the situation. When reaching out and caring for someone you love who is going through an experience of depression, let the following 7 Tips be a source of help and guidance to you…
- EMPATHY: Build trust and seek to understand what the person with depression is feeling. Learn to effectively communicate your empathy as a key to establishing a caring bond.
- CONNECTION: Assist the person to stay connected because a trait of social withdrawal is commonly associated with depression. Encourage socialisation with family and friends and engagement with community and professional support networks.
- COMMUNICATE: Encourage all the various support stakeholders (e.g. Doctor, Counsellor, Psychologist) to collaborate and coordinate their efforts. Keep open the lines of communication with everyone and work towards a common goal of achieving an early recovery.
- ACTIVITY: Encourage the person to be active. Go for walks together or participate in outdoor games such as tennis, volleyball or football. Many studies have linked exercise to a therapeutic benefit for people with depression.
- OPTIMISM: Lead by example and maintain an optimistic outlook. Be the inspiration that fosters a solutions-oriented mindset. Even small steps of progress should be welcomed and encouraged. Let the person feel empowered and able to gain control over the outcomes that are important to them.
- BE THERE: Just being there, a shoulder to lean on, a listening ear, can make a big difference. Offer to be available to help out with simple chores and activities if the person with depression is struggling to manage those tasks.
- SELF-CARE: Be sure to take time-out for yourself. Sometimes while being a carer we can lose sight of getting our own needs met. Helping someone experiencing depression can be demanding of our time and energy, and particularly challenging if there aren’t good support networks readily available. If you feel your self-care is slipping, chat with a counsellor and get help so you’ll have the strength and resilience to be an effective care-giver.