How to Care For Yourself When Caring for a Depressed Person
Dealing with someone suffering from depression can be challenging. If you are caring for a loved one who is depressed, whether it is a child, a partner, a relative, or a friend, you may feel as debilitated, in pain, and frustrated as that person. You may have felt frustrated because you wanted to help but did not know how. You may also not have known how to take care of yourself in this situation.
In this oneHOWTO article, we have put together some tips and strategies to help you better handle caring for someone with depression.
What is depression?
Depressive disorder is a common and serious condition that negatively affects how you feel, think, and act. It is important to clarify that sadness is not the same as depression. Everyone experiences ups and downs in their lives, and that's normal. Sometimes we may feel sad longer than usual, but that does not mean we have depression. It is important to distinguish between sadness and depression in order to get the help, support or treatment that people need.
Only a psychologist or psychiatrist can make a diagnosis, but there are some symptoms that may indicate depression, especially if they have been going on for a long time. Symptoms of depression can vary from person to person, and not everyone experiences them the same way. The most common symptoms are:
- Feeling sad and melancholy.
- Irritable mood.
- Sleep disturbances, i.e., sleeping more or less than usual.
- Appetite disturbances, i.e., eating more or less than usual.
- Fatigue and lack of energy throughout the day.
- Conversations about death or suicide.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Feelings of guilt, extremely low self-esteem.
- Feelings of hopelessness.
- Difficulty maintaining social relationships or engaging in activities you used to enjoy.
- Having difficulty focusing or making decisions or experiencing forgetfulness more often.
To know more how to deal with manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, keep reading this article on how to manage bipolar disorder.
How to help a person suffering from depression.
It can be heartbreaking to learn that someone you love and care about is suffering from depression. Since depression is a disease, it needs to be treated by a professional. However, there are many other things you can do to help the other person through this difficult time and support them in seeking help if they have not already done so:
- Tell your loved one that you are there for them. Share your concerns and ask specific questions such as: The last few months seem to have been difficult for you. What is going through your mind?
- Encourage them to go to psychological or psychiatric counseling where an accurate diagnosis can be made. Remember, however, that the decision must come from them; you cannot force them to go to therapy. On the other hand, if they seem interested in counseling, offer to help them find a therapist.
- Practice active listening. That is, listening without interrupting, with the goal of really focusing on what the other person is saying, not on what they should say in response. It is important to allow depressed people to express themselves so that they feel that they are valuable and worth listening to. We should also be careful not to interrupt them, give them unsolicited advice, or underestimate their feelings.
- Make sure you validate their feelings. You might say something like, "That sounds really difficult. I am sorry to hear that you are going through this." Remember that many people who suffer from depression are afraid to share their feelings because they think others might judge them. That's why it's so important to validate their feelings.
- When you are depressed, it can be difficult to do everyday tasks like laundry, grocery shopping, or paying bills, so you do not know where to start. Do not wait for your friend to ask for help; offer it directly and help them with specific things, such as grocery shopping, cooking healthy meals, and organizing their finances.
You can learn more on natural ways to treat depression by reading this article on how to beat depression naturally.
How to care for yourself when dealing with a depressed person
If someone you love is suffering from depression, you may feel the need to drop everything and always be there for them. There is nothing wrong in principle with helping someone who is suffering from depression, but it is equally important to take care of your own needs. We need to help ourselves first in order to properly help others. Here are some tips and techniques to help you help someone with depression:
- If you are dealing with someone who is suffering from depression, it is important to remember that depression is an illness. The other person is not just going through a bad time, they need to be treated. Sometimes they can be extremely pessimistic or complain. It can be very distressing when they act this way. That is why it is so important to understand that these people are suffering from an illness and that they are not in control.
- We need to understand that we must try to be patient and understanding, regardless of how much it affects us. Yet, we must first help ourselves in order to help others. So do not apologize for taking a break or leaving the house for a while if you feel the situation is too much. It is important that we find time to do the things we love and spend time with ourselves. These activities should be non-negotiable.
- We also need to be aware of the limits of what we can and cannot do to help the person with depression. We should realize that as much as we want to help, we are not responsible for ending the depression. That is the responsibility of the patient and his or her treating physicians, not yours.
- It is important to set boundaries. For example, tell the person that you are available for a talk or a walk after school or work, but not before.
- By involving other family members and friends, you can build a more solid support network and take the pressure off yourself.
- Finally, you have to give yourself permission to feel exhausted, angry, sad, or hopeless. All of these feelings are allowed and natural in these situations; you do not have to deal with the added burden of guilt.
Working on your self-steem is crucial for maintaining your mental health so don't miss this article on how to boost your self-steem.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Care For Yourself When Caring for a Depressed Person, we recommend you visit our Mental health category.