Coping With a Loved One's Depression
How does depression affect family and friends?
Depression can cause great suffering, and not only for the person who is depressed.
Living with or spending time with a depressed person can be very stressful for family members and friends.
The pain of watching a loved one suffer from depression can bring about feelings of helplessness and loss.
If left untreated, depression can greatly disrupt family life. Depressed people may cause feelings of disappointment and even anger in family members, who may resent or have trouble understanding the problems of the depressed person.
Depressed people often frustrate and withdraw from the people around them.
It helps to remember that the person has an illness, and cannot help the way they feel and act. Of course it is hard to control your temper when someone you care about doesn't return telephone calls, can't get out of bed, ignores commitments, and shows no interest in you; but try not to take it personally.
What can you do when a loved one has depression?
- Don't look at your loved one's depression as a family disgrace or a subject of shame. It's a disease like any other, and it can be treated.
- Don't feel like you have to apologize to others because your loved one no longer cares about the social activities or special events.
- Urge the person to get help. Offer to make the appointment, and make sure they get there.
- Itís important for friends and family members to show support and understanding.
- Find out more about depression. The more you know, the easier it will be to offer support when the depressed person needs it most.
Here are some other ways of supporting a friend or family member who is depressed:
- Try to maintain as normal a relationship as possible
- Acknowledge that the person is suffering
- Don't nag, preach, or lecture
- Ask the depressed person to go with you to a movie, a party, or another event
- Encourage efforts to get treatment
- Offer affection and kind words, and give compliments
- Help keep the person an active, busy member of the family or your circle of friends
Take any talk of suicide seriously
Call HAP's Coordinated Behavioral Health Management Department (CBHM) at (800) 444-5755. CBHM services are confidential and help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.