Depression – Do’s and Don’ts for Loved Ones

This is not going to be your usual brief overview of clinical depression. Instead, here’s a blog post from an individual who deals with depression on a daily basis and with her loved ones who really needed some guidance as to what it feels like to be depressed.

1. Please understand that being depressed is not a choice that can go away with our choosing. It’s a feeling, yes, and even an illness that comes in waves of intensity for some people and lingers in a mild form for others, but in no way do we choose to feel depressed! Trust me on this one. 

Please refrain from remarks that treat it like a phase of some sort that can be shaken off. These remarks not only make us feel worse, but they also don’t provide much help to us. Instead, give us some space or at least respect the truth of the matter – that we are feeling depressed. Ask us what you can do to help. Maybe we can talk and figure something out, or we’ll ask to be alone for a bit as we work through it ourselves.

2. We don’t necessarily need or want your intervention all of the time. We understand you mean well and you want to be of help to get us out of a “funk” as you may perceive it to be. However, sometimes we just need to feel what we feel. In that case, just be supportive by granting us that space. 

Sometimes it does help for us to talk things through with you and it’s always healthy to share what we feel, but we don’t necessarily want to do this every time our symptoms intensify.

3. Depression doesn’t always have a clear and identifiable cause. So don’t expect us to be able to explain why we are depressed all of the time. Oftentimes, we don’t even know the “why” of what we feel – just the “how.” 

Instead of asking why, remind us of everything positive about us and our life. Encourage us not to dwell on the negative. Be loving and supportive by taking your time with us, not dismissing us as ill or a Debby-Downer. Remind us that we are loved no matter what and be there – present – with us when we need you.

4. Depression is not a life sentence – it’s a condition that sometimes worsens and other times lingers. It can be treated and should be treated with proper medical attention and often with medication. Above all else, someone struggling with depression should be treated with respect. 

If you feel stuck and/or hopeless, have trouble sleeping, or you feel like you have nothing going for you, I encourage you to at least talk your doctor or someone you know and trust. Sometimes it takes a healthy push or a hand to hold to take that brave first step toward a healthier life. But you can do it, and let me tell you, it gets a lot better! You need not suffer alone.


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