If you have a friend or family member who has depression it can be difficult to know how to support them. Depression can affect anyone, and it is important to know it is treatable. People can experience depression in different forms. According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
The first thing you can do to help a friend or family member is to listen and be supportive of them. Let them know you are there for them. When they want to talk, listen carefully. Just listening can be very comforting for that person.
Here are other things you can do to help and provide support:
-Provide positive reinforcement. A person suffering from depression may judge themselves and find fault with everything they do. Remind your loved one about their positive qualities and how much they mean to you and others.
-Make plans to do things together. Your friend may decline, but keep making plans to do things with them, and reminding them they are important to you. Suggest doing an activity you both enjoy or go on a walk, attend a yoga class, get coffee etc.
-Educate yourself on signs, symptoms, and treatment. There are many treatment options for depression. There are several organizations that offer support groups, counseling and resources for depression.
-Another way to help support a friend is to assist them create a low stress environment. Talking to your friend about creating a regular routine can help them feel more in control. Offer to help them plan out recipes, physical activities, or add in positive coping strategies in their routine.
Someone experiencing depression may experience a number of difficult emotions:
– seems sad or tearful
– talking about feeling empty or worthless
-seems less interested in spending time together
-getting upset easily or are unusually irritable
-has less energy
-has trouble sleeping or sleep more than usual
-seems forgetful or have trouble concentrating
Ultimately, it is important to let your friend or loved one know you are there for them. If you are not able to spend time with them, reach out and check on them regularly whether it be a phone call or text message. Depression usually improves from treatment, but it can be a process that involves trial and error. Be patient with your friend or loved one as you continue to support them.
Jill Haupts, Outreach Coordinator for The Kim Foundation
Jill Haupts is the Outreach Coordinator at The Kim Foundation. She received her bachelor’s degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services from Iowa State University in 2016. Jill joined the Kim Foundation in January coming from Des Moines, Iowa. Her previous experience includes volunteer recruitment and fundraising, as well as experience coordinating services and providing resources to adults who have a mental health diagnosis. Jill’s role in the foundation is coordinating event logistics, presenting and attending community fairs, as well as volunteer coordination and recruitment. She enjoys working in the nonprofit field and has a passion for advocacy and helping others.