Helping Others With Depression

There are few things quite as insipid as depression.  As a mental illness depression is capable of completely colouring an individual’s life, leaving them feeling bleak and hopeless even when an outside observer can’t see a problem.  It is a bleak and terrible affliction that can rob a person of months or even years of their lives.

Fortunately the stigma that has been surrounding mental illness has been slowly dissipating over the years.  Various therapies and treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy are now used by therapists and psychologists to treat individuals afflicted with depression. There are also a range of medicines and drugs available on prescription to help correct the chemical balances in the brain.  These help with the physical symptoms that result in a person becoming depressed.

At any given time, roughly one in ten people may be afflicted with depression.  This makes it very likely that any given person will at least know somebody who is affected by it even if the sufferer takes pains to conceal their illness.  As a result, team leaders from big companies to small volunteer organizations should have some awareness of depression.  Though actual treatment should be left to qualified professionals there are some things that other people can do to help their friends, family or co-workers with depression cope.

Learn Patience

Depression can take weeks or years to overcome and even, in some cases be a lifetime struggle.  It isn’t something that can be put right over a weekend.   But there are a lot of things you can do to help an individual take the steps they need to in order to overcome their depression and having the patience and persistence to preserve with them is invaluable for the depressed individuals recovery.

Be Present in the Small Things

While it’s a bad idea to be pushy and to try to paper over the depression by deliberately distracting the person affected it’s never a bad idea to get involved in their life in small ways.  One of the horrible things about depression is the way it cuts off the natural empathy of people, leaving them feeling isolated in themselves.  Doing small things like taking the time to greet them, spending a bit of time in their company or sharing a meal or treat can help them build a valuable link to others, bringing them back slowly into the world.

Avoid Tough-Love

Many people might feel tempted to try being tough in order to “snap their friend” out of it.  For example, they may become impatient or make demands such as deadlines or ultimatums believing that a sharp shock will help fix them.  Sadly, this is not likely to work as it does not deal with the underlying problems and indeed is likely to compound them – not is your friend depressed and feeling worthless in their own mind, but being unable to fulfil your demands will only make them feel like more of a failure. 

Be Informed

Depression is not a uniform illness and it does not affect everyone the same way.  Some people will have good days when they appear entirely themselves and happy as well as bad ones where they simply cannot bring themselves to leave their homes.  Educating yourself about depression, what causes it and where help can be found is essential, especially if you think that the person may be at any risk of suicide or self-harm.

Understand the Limits of the Help You Can Offer.

As with nearly any sickness and injury, only the person afflicted can truly heal themselves.  You can be there to offer support and assistance, but it is unwise to harbour ideas that you can cure depression in another.  Even therapists work with their clients to help guide them through their illness, teaching them ways to cope with their negative thoughts and emotions. 

 

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