Yes! You Can Love a Depressed Person!
It's not an easy task to love a depressed person. Sometimes frustration makes you throw your hands up in the air because you just don't know what else to do. Hope exists! There are some tips that might help you love a depressed person a little better.
1. Don't accentuate their shame.
Depressed people feel tremendous amounts of shame. They listen to a voice in their head over and over that tells them that it's their fault. They feel shame because they know that they have to find the strength to do what they already know needs to be done. This often weighs very heavily on them, so don’t be the kind of person who adds to it. In fact, be the kind of person who helps lighten it. So, don’t patronize! It's more effective to empathize, because empathy eases shame.
2. Don’t pretend there is a simple solution.
Depression is like a black and blue mark. Sometimes you know how it happened, and sometimes you genuinely don’t. What makes this difficult, is that this is a black and blue mark in their mind. For depressed people, there is nothing is worse than treating their depression simplistically. So, don't make them feel like they can just take a pill or see a counselor to cure it. Yes, medication and therapy may be part of their healing process, but one of those alone is not the “end all - be all". This is an extremely unhelpful tactic, so it's more effective to help them find the balance of simplifying things without being too simplistic in the process.
3. Accept the physical and the spiritual equally.
It has been long known that having social support is good for a person's health and that religious folks tend to have healthier habits than those who are not religious. Although most doctors aren't about to hand their stethoscopes over to a higher power, more and more medical professionals are taking seriously the relationship between spirituality and physical health. Studies show that people who received social support for stress through their spirituality had better self-reported health than those who received similar degrees of support through non-spiritual sources.
4. It's alright to have awkward silences.
When people are depressed, the last thing they want to do is talk about why they’re really depressed. It's not because they're mad, snobby, or that they're purposely trying to kill the fun vibes in the room. They're just a bit tongue-tied over the situation and need some time. Sometimes all you have to do is wait a bit for their discomfort to dissipate. Don't take it personally if they seem like they don't want you around. They really do. They just want you to accept the awkward silence with them because it shows them that sometimes it’s alright to sit in silence. Remember, life is difficult and we don’t have all the solutions.
5. Assist them with taking themselves less seriously.
One of the best things you can do for a depressed person is to stop them from taking themselves too seriously. Many depressed people get in their own way by taking themselves too seriously and it can be difficult to make progress when this occurs because they are simply standing in their own way. Humor is actually an important part of dealing with depression, because if you listen closely enough to laughter, you can hear the sounds of hope. Help them learn to laugh at themselves because having the fine balance to humorously self-deprecate themselves can be a wonderful tension to release. Looking through life with this lighthearted lens can quickly help them respond to stressful triggers. Balance is the key (too much is too much), so don't dismiss them as unimportant or under represent their abilities. But, helping them to learn to laugh at themselves may be a sure-fire way to diffuse the situation.
6. Give them space, but don't go too far away.
Depressed people need the space to be alone, yet they need the security of knowing that you’re not going anywhere. Don't push issues, because this can make them feel like a lot is riding on them getting over their depression. This will only make things worse. Instead, ask them what they're feeling and just listen. It’s important to never interrupt them once you think you understand their feelings and analyze what’s causing them. Instead, help them understand their fears, make a plan and move forward. Who knows what kind of life is waiting on the other side of their depression? Help them get there!
- Jeff Stein
6 Ways to Love a Depressed Person - Embracing Awkward. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2015, from http://sammyrhodes.co/embracingawkward/13922768
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