It is estimated that one in four of us will experience a mental health issue during our lifetime. Even if you’re not affected yourself, chances are someone close to you may be, so what is the best way to deal with someone with depression?
Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma around talking about mental health, and it is often reported that men find it very difficult to say they’re depressed. However, there are many national campaigns that are working to tackle the stigma associated with mental health for example the “Heads Together” campaign. Many celebrities including Dwayne Johnson, Adele, JK Rowling and many others have reported experiencing mental health problems at some point in their lives making the conversation about mental health more prevalent than ever before.
While some people find they are able to open up about suffering of depression, some don’t find it so easy. Others may not even realise that they’re experiencing depression, so what can you do to help?
Symptoms of depression include;
- Persistent sadness
- Low mood
- Disturbed sleep
- No longer getting pleasure in things they once did
- Low feeling of self-worth
- Avoiding social situations
- Drinking more than usual
- Focussing on negatives in life
- Look unhealthy gained/lost weight
- Complain of poor sleep and aches and pains
Once you spot these symptoms, it’s important not to feel guilty if you realise that someone in your life has been suffering with depression in silence. Depression is often not visible to people and many are embarrassed to admit to it or they cover it up.
When someone does open up to you, what should you say?
Make sure you keep in touch – a weekly call or text to check how they are doing and letting them know that you are there to talk is often a way of telling them you’re there for them.
It’s important to encourage them to get out. A simple walk or a trip to the coffee shop is often a great way to allow them to talk if needed.
Ask them if there is anything you can do, looking after their kids for an hour or two while they do exercise or see a dedicateed councillor could be very helpful.
Listen. Just allowing them to talk can be the best thing you could offer. They don’t need the answers but just allowing them to talk is the most supportive thing you could do.
Alcohol should be avoided as this can make the depression worse in the long term, so going to a coffee shop instead of the pub may be a better option.
Advising them to pull themselves together is not helpful.
Depression is an illness that makes it difficult for people to be optimistic so telling them that they are so lucky in life is not helpful.
Don’t pressure them to talk about their mental health, if they want to, that’s fine but if they don’t then just talking is very helpful.
Even if they are better for some weeks or months, their depression hasn’t necessarily gone forever. It can be a long-term condition and some may experience recurring bouts of depression so always try to be aware of this.
Reassuring your loved one that you are there for them is often the best thing you can do. However, it’s important not to analyse or try and “cure” them yourself, encouraging them to seek professional advice is always advised.
It is always important to look after your own mental health and well-being too so if you’re struggling to cope with their illness or you have any issues that need discussing, you can always contact your GP who will point you in the right direction.
Remember it is good to talk. Do not suffer in silence, if you have any concerns or queries don’t hesitate to contact your GP who will be happy to sign post you to services locally and/or offer further treatment.