Sometimes it can be hard to know how to show support to someone we love who is going through a rough time. Its not that we don’t care, its just sometimes hard to know the best way to show support. And our fear about not supporting the “right way” can lead to no action at all. I have compiled a list of eight ways you can support loved ones with depression to help remove some of the fear and uncertainty.
1.) Just be with them
Your presence and your support is the most powerful tool you have. There may not be anything you can say or do to take away the pain they feel but sending the message that you are there with them and for them can be a huge comfort to them.
2.) Provide community
Depression can be very isolating. Depression tells the lie that “you are alone” and “no one cares”. Show them that these statements are not true by being there and being in community with them.
3.) Invite them to things
Indivivduals with depression often have a hard time motivating to get out of their head (or in a more physical sense sometimes out of their bed). Invite them to do things with you, maybe its lunch, coffee, a party, or a walk around the block. Continue to offer invitations even when they turn you down, even if they turn you down repetitively.
4.) Let them you thinking about them
Depression likes to tell the lie “no one cares”, “no one likes you”, or “you are not loved”. Send texts, cards, Facebook messages, or phone calls to let them know you are thinking about them and that you really do care and tell them how much they mean to you.
5.) Recognize the positive steps they take
Sometimes small steps can take a tremendous amount of effort. And depression often causes individuals to feel down on themselves and feel like their efforts are not enough so why try. Did they apply to that new job or make a new friend? Encourage them as they take these positive steps.
6.) Listen and validate
As we talked about, depression can be very isolating. When we listen, truly listen, it lets the person know that you are there with them. It lets them know that you understand them. Avoid the urge to try to make too many suggestions about what the individual “should do”, they are probably already hearing that enough from others including from themselves.
7.) Self Care
Take care of yourself. Take time for self-care. Our love and patience for others starts with love and patience for ourselves.
8.) Encourage them to get professional help
Counseling is effective. Medication is effective. Together the two are even more effective. If they do not have professional support already, encourage them to reach out to get help.
Theresa Leskowat MS LPC is Founder and Owner of Clear Vista Counseling. Theresa provides counseling in Charlotte, NC.