Watching a loved one suffer can be extremely difficult, especially when you see them lose interest in the things they used to enjoy. You may try to tell them to “snap out of it” or join you for a walk. However, many people don’t understand that getting out of bed and going for a walk may be the hardest thing you could ask of them. People that are depressed experience cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are behaviors that are fueled by misconceptions. These distortions are driven by constant thought patterns such as depression or anxiety. Cognitive distortions can present themselves through habits or self-talk in daily life. Habits can perpetuate over time and turn into routines and beliefs, such as not getting out of bed, not brushing your teeth, and consistently telling yourself you are unworthy.
As a family member, friend, or neighbor, we can reach out and help those suffering from depression. Depression looks different in everyone. Being able to identify warning signs is essential for taking action. Early action is vital for your loved ones’ safety, especially if they have suicidal ideations. Here are four ways to support your loved one experiencing depression.
1. Be Available
Let your loved one know that you are available by simply giving them your time. For someone that is depressed, they may feel like a burden to others. People with depression are frequently seen as socially isolating and avoiding seeing their loved ones. When social interactions are severely diminished, that takes away is an essential component of well-being. Spending time with a loved one can look like bringing them some soup or a cup of coffee, or even binging a Netflix show together. Depression is difficult, and having someone unconditionally there can make it feel more bearable.
2. Don’t Smother Them
Individuals with depression may not want the focus to be all about them. When someone feels like a burden to others, putting pressure on them to feel better and act normal can be incredibly stressful. Imagine having a cold, and your whole family wants you to come outside and play basketball. That’s the last thing you’re going to want to do. When you feel sick, it is already hard that you can’t participate in fun activities. When others are pressuring you, it’s going to feel that much worse. Having depression is more challenging than having a cold because you can’t always see the physical symptoms. People with depression may not want to explain this to their family or loved ones. The best thing you can do is give your loved one some time to heal. The healing process will take time.
3. Recommend Treatment
You may want to recommend that your loved one seek treatment for their depression. They may not want to go, and that’s okay - don’t push them. The healing process works best when an individual truly wants it for themselves. However, if your loved one displays suicidal behavior, seek professional help immediately.
Going to treatment alone for the first time can be overwhelming. You can tell your loved one that you will take them to therapy or even accompany them to a doctor for an evaluation. It’s important to destigmatize seeing a therapist or taking medicine for depression. If you’ve experienced depression, talk to them about what you’ve been through. Depression often feels as though there is a veil between you and the outside world and that you are utterly alone in what you’re going through.
One helpful form of therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This technique targets your underlying thoughts and changes negative perceptions into positive ones. Picture an iceberg, and imagine this as your thoughts. The surface-level thoughts are usually the only ones we tend to think about. The underlying beliefs that we hold about ourselves are the miles of the iceberg that stretch below the surface. CBT therapy is vital for identifying what thoughts are keeping us in our depression. For example, one thought process may look like this: “Whenever I try new things, I fail; therefore, I shouldn’t try new things.” CBT targets these negative conceptions and rewires your thoughts and behaviors to believe that you can do what you previously thought you couldn’t.
4. Look for Warning Signs
Your loved one experiencing depression may lose interest in previously enjoyed activities. They may socially withdraw or be unable to go to work or school. If you live with this individual, it is essential to monitor their behaviors. If they begin to mention death or talk about giving away their possessions, that is a red flag. Look for any medicine or lethal weapons and store them in a safe place. Call 911 immediately if you are concerned for their safety.
Supporting your loved one experiencing depression may feel overwhelming. The effects of worry and stress may interrupt your life and compromise your health. Luckily, you do not have to do it alone. If you seek support or treatment for your loved one, SokyaHealth has various treatment options for you. SokyaHealth is a unique, multidisciplinary, private psychiatric and mental health practice. We offer a range of therapies and new age technologies to target the symptoms of depression. We provide comprehensive mental health services for Southern California, Oregon, and Alaska regions. Our services treat a wide range of mental health disorders, and if you would like more information, we would be happy to help. Our staff is welcoming and ready to answer any questions you may have. To schedule a free consultation with SokyaHealth, contact us today at (866) 657-6592. You can start your journey to healing and wellness with us now.