Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Helping a Loved One with Depression

In my journey with depression I have been all too aware of how it has affected my relationships. I realize it not only makes me sad, but can hurt those around me, which in turn makes me feel even worse.

I don’t have any magic words on how to deal with loved ones suffering from depression, but I can give you suggestions based on what I have experienced.

                My first suggestion, if you haven’t already, is to do your research on depression. Find out what it is, read stories of people who have it, and ask your loved one how it feels. Ask your loved one if there is anything that makes it worse, what thoughts go through their head, when it started, is there something that can help them feel better, etc. Try to be mindful of when the right time is to have this conversation. I know for me personally, I have a bad tendency to “shut down” and not want to talk when depression is hitting me hard. While sometimes talking through it does help me, sometimes it’s just better if I have some space to work through it in my own head. Please, do not feel hurt if your loved one is not ready to talk. Just let them know that you’re ready to listen whenever they are ready. I would also be careful of asking “what’s wrong?”, as sometimes there really isn’t anything wrong. Sometimes a person with depression just feels bad, and they feel guilty when they don’t have a specific reason of why they’re upset.  

                My second suggestion is to check your own thoughts and make sure you think of depression as a challenge that some strong people have to overcome in order to find their true happiness and purpose in life. Learn to believe that part of the reason your loved one has been placed in your life is so that you may become a better human being as well.  It will be very hard to do this at first, but learn to be thankful that you have been entrusted with the courageous job of helping someone deal with depression.  I feel very strongly about this belief as it is the way people will stop feeling “ashamed” that they have depression and it will allow people to feel safe to talk about it. The ability to feel safe about talking about depression is a big step towards learning how to feel better.

                My third suggestion is to take care of yourself when your loved one is having a “bad day.” I feel absolutely terrible when my depression starts affecting those I love and I know it does. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, take care of yourself. Letting yourself feel bad is not going to help anyone.  Understand that your loved one’s depression is not your fault. Do what you need to stay positive. Only then can you be truly helpful. (If you are spiritual, imagine a white or golden light around yourself, and say a small prayer for you and your loved one for guidance. I really believe this can help you and your loved one.)

                My last suggestion is never give up on your loved one and always believe that depression can be healed. It is only in this belief that depression can be healed, no matter how long or hard the struggle is. Always keep depression an open subject and when the moments are right, help your loved one find help, as the solution does not lie in you. Do not put that pressure on yourself. You can only do what you can to help. To help your loved one find help is tricky, but trust yourself. Just by reading this you are helping. Maybe even showing your loved one my past blogs is helping. You were entrusted to help this person for a reason. Trust that what needs to come your way to help will come when you and/or your loved one is ready.

Thank you so much for your courage, love, and strength as you support your loved one on their journey with depression. Even when it doesn’t seem like it, you are appreciated and loved.


  1. Thank you, Sandi, for sharing this. There are three people in my family who have depression. This helped me, and will also help them.

    1. thanks for being open and honest ... recognizing what it is and surrounding yourself with friends and loved ones that can be supportive is very important to being as healthy and productive as possible while going 'thru' it ---Kim

  2. My 17 year old son is very depressed. He was released from hospital for 72 hour hold three weeks ago.
    He is on antidepressant and seeing psychologist but I know antidepressant takes at least 4-5 weeks to see if it would even work. I am an RN working in ICU. I receive patients from ER diagnosis of danger to self, overdose from suicide attempt. I have seen how it is and how people go through or not go through. Today, I am feeling really drowning because anything I try is not helping or not going to help.
    I suggested to work out and tried to take him out of house but he was angry telling me I make things worse. He is a top student at school about to graduate next month but has not gone to school since discharge. My husband and I are fine with not graduating or not going to college but i think he needs routine and structure.
    He sleeps 13 hours a day and be on the iphone all day. I forced him to walk
    I know I should let him find a way to manage but he is still a child.
    I don't think I should let him vegetate.
    I want to take him out to a place like the picture your on your website.
    Am I just being impatient? Do I let him do nothing but be on the phone all day?
    Is it wrong to force him to go to the pool or gym to work out?
    Do i just cook 3 meals a day and leave him alone until he is ready?
    Would that kind of daily routine with no routine help him any?
    Do I just patiently wait until medication do something?
    I know medication and talk therapy alone will not help.
    Then, do I put him in the exercise class?
    I need help.
    I ordered books to read more about depression and unfortunately I have some family history of depression.
    I feel strongly about forcing yourself to exercise helps relieving symptoms of depression. It is a little stool to step up to try to have a thought of " I want to get better'
    Yesterday, He said everything is pointless,and I don"t want to get better.
    Classic sentences I hear from those patients from psychic unit at the hospital.
    He said I treat him like a patient.
    I want to treat him like my son, just enable him all the time.
    I should treat him like my patient. He is not failing anything. It is a illness from brain chemistry imbalance. Patients with cancer receive sets of treatment consisting chemo, radiation,nutrition, physical therapy, etc. He needs his set of treatment consisting seeing talk therapiest, being on meds,exercise, nutrition, regular routine.
    Is it impossible for me to make him do all these because I am his mom?

    1. Before I say anything, I am not a doctor or an expert. I'm just someone who experienced depression since I was a kid.
      Most importantly, you need to be happy and do whatever that takes. That may not seem to relate to your son, but your happiness can will effect everyone in your home. Secondly, trust your gut. you probably already know what your son needs most. Don't second guess yourself. Your son may or may not want to hear this, but always, every single day, tell him you love him and how important he is in your life. That matters a lot. Lastly, what does your son think well help him the most? What is he passionate about?

      I know this may not be the answers you wanted or expected, but I'm guessing you've tried as much as you could. May as well give it a shot.

      I'll also suggest reading Mind over Mood.


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