Counsellor Sarah Barr shares a guide to supporting a friend or loved one who may have depression.
“When I’m alone, I think.
When I think, I remember.
When I remember, I feel pain.
When I feel pain, I cry.
When I cry, I can’t stop.
Please don’t leave me alone”
Some days are hard. Some days are harder than others. These are the days when your loved one will need you more.
Depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects millions of people. It can get in the way of everyday life.
If someone you love is depressed, you may be experiencing any number of difficult emotions. These include feelings of helplessness, frustration, anger, fear, guilt, and sadness.
These feelings are all normal.
Symptoms of depression
Depression signs and symptoms will vary from person to person. However they can include:
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts or irritability
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
- Not sleeping or sleeping too much
- Changes in appetite
- Anxiety or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt and blame
- Focusing on the past
- Difficulty in thinking and focusing on certain tasks
- Frequent or recurrent mention of death or suicidal thoughts
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.
It is advisable to seek professional advice from your doctor or a counsellor before self-diagnosing.
By being there sometimes is all you need to do. By offering a listening ear or giving a hug is enough. By helping your loved one carry the load will greatly help them.
4. Depression is not a choice.
Feeling down and miserable every day is not a choice anyone would like to make. It is not a cry for attention and they cannot just snap out of it. Depression is a real illness.
Many people hide how they are feeling so if someone opens up to you, treat that person and conversation with as much kindness as you can. They are letting you in.
5. Be proud
Everyday we learn something new. Everyday is filled with new thoughts and experiences. Everyday can be a struggle.
Be proud that your loved one is fighting through how they are feeling, be proud that they have woken up, be proud that they have decided to get up, be proud that they are fighting their depression. Understand their world. Walk in their shoes and you will be proud of them.
This video can help explain what it is like to live with depression:
When a family member or friend suffers from depression, your support and encouragement can play an important role in his or her recovery. However, depression can also wear you down if you neglect your own needs. Thinking about your own needs is not an act of selfishness, it is self-care. Your emotional strength will allow you to provide the ongoing support your loved one needs.
People may feel ashamed about their depression and think they should be able to overcome it with willpower alone. Depression seldom gets better without treatment and may get worse. With the right treatment approach, the person you care about can get better. This is a decision they must make themselves. If they feel ready to talk to someone I have listed links to organisations that may help below:
Or contact your local doctor or myself on 0864477867.