Someone you know is struggling; they’re canceling plans, missing appointments, and have lost interest in things they used to love. Your loved one may be experiencing depression, a mood disorder that impacts 280 million individuals worldwide. The thought of intervening may seem scary. You might worry about overstepping or feel unsure about what to do. While any steps you take to ensure their health and happiness will have an impact, some actions can be more helpful than others.
We can help if you need guidance while caring for others with depression. Learn tips and suggestions for helping a loved one decide to pursue help and find out what help is available in South Florida.
Know the Signs of Depression
The most significant sign of depression is a mood, behavior, or affect shift. Often, loved ones can’t quite grasp what is different. The symptoms can be subtle, and you may intuit them before you can articulate them. With that in mind, knowing what to look for can make starting a conversation easier. Common symptoms of depression include:
- Negative self-talk
- Expressing a sense of hopelessness
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Withdrawing from loved ones
- New struggles at work or school or with relationships
- Difficulty making decisions
- Trouble with concentration
- New complaints about pain
- Changes in diet (overeating or undereating)
- Insomnia or sleeping excessively
- Difficulty maintaining hygiene routines
- Avoiding social situations
- Retreating from hobbies
Not every individual who is feeling depressed will experience all the above symptoms. When preparing for a conversation with your loved one, note examples of the above behavior. Help your friend see their behavior from your perspective without judgment.
Starting the Conversation
An individual with depression, with or without substance abuse issues, does not need an intervention. On the contrary, they need support. Symptoms such as decision paralysis, low mood, and hopelessness may make self-advocating impossible.
Begin With a Goal
Before you begin the conversation, it’s essential to have a goal. If not, pointing out the individual’s struggles can make them feel defensive. In most cases, you should attempt to convince them to schedule a mental health assessment and take initial steps toward diagnosis.
Consider having treatment or assessment resources on hand when you begin. You might volunteer to make a phone call or help set an appointment. Some individuals might appreciate a ride to therapy or company in the waiting room.
During the discussion, clarify that you’re coming to them because you care about their health and well-being. Use “I” statements so they don’t perceive your concerns as accusatory. Talk about what you feel, notice, and what their pursuit of treatment would mean to you. You might use statements like “I’ve noticed.”
Recognize that an individual coping with depression often has trouble seeing the bigger picture. Their world may feel very small and isolated. Realizing that others think and worry about them can illuminate and lead to action.
Leave Room for Discussion
Depression is isolating, and many struggling individuals feel compelled to push others away. While it may be difficult for them to talk, many depressed individuals are hungry for opportunities to express their feelings. Be sure to provide time and space for them to participate in the conversation. They shouldn’t feel like you are talking “at” them.
Don’t dismiss their feelings, even when it’s difficult—you’re there to listen, not provide therapy. With that said, you may gently wish to emphasize that a therapist can help them learn strategies for dealing with their negative thoughts.
What Not to Say to a Person With Depression
You may be reluctant to start a conversation out of fear of saying the wrong thing. If you approach the discussion with warmth, empathy, and a genuine desire to help, it’s difficult to go wrong.
Remember, you’re talking to a person with a severe medical condition. It’s essential to approach the chat with the utmost sensitivity. Depression is a serious medical condition that deserves to be treated as such.
Your loved one may express some negative views during your conversation. They may claim they feel like nobody loves them, they’re a failure, or that life isn’t worth living. Remember that these are symptoms of depression, not their real feelings or opinions, and do not reflect reality.
It’s crucial that you empathize but do not agree with their negative statements. Instead, offer your perspective. A message as simple as “it gets better” can significantly impact in the long run.
Conquer Depression at Comprehensive Wellness Centers
Depressed individuals often have difficulty caring for themselves. Your loved one is lucky to have a caring friend or family member looking out for their best interests. When they seem ready, it’s always a good idea to discuss the available treatment options for depression. We welcome you to begin your search for support at Comprehensive Wellness Centers in South Florida. Our safe, home-like facility offers comprehensive, customized inpatient and outpatient treatment options. Reach out to an admissions representative today to learn more.