Depression is an illness that can be very isolating. A depressed person may not even realize why they are depressed or understand that there is an underlying biological cause for feeling melancholy. Family and friends can play an important role in helping to support their loved one through the process of confronting and treating depression.
When a person is experiencing depression, they may become confrontational and offering support can be difficult. However, during a time of crisis, family members and friends are often the most influential people in the affected person’s life and can have a tremendous impact, despite efforts to push them away. During this time, empathy, patience and persistence go a long way toward encouraging recovery.
The following are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to familial involvement in depression:
- DO make efforts to reach out even if the affected person seems withdrawn and doesn’t want help.
- DO understand that recovery is possible and remain positive and encouraging.
- DO continue to include the depressed person in family discussions, events, and everyday matters.
- DO talk openly and honestly about the condition including treatment, hospitalization if applicable and expectations.
- DO follow doctor’s orders and be strong for the loved one.
- DON’T try and tell a depressed person how to feel or what to think.
- DON’T undermine treatment efforts by downplaying the illness such as chalking it up to a phase or a need for a vacation, more vitamins, etc.
- DON’T ridicule the person for their concerns or fears no matter how irrational they might seem.
- DON’T expect functioning beyond what someone is capable, for example, getting out if they don’t feel like it.
With depression it’s important to take one day at a time. Everyone appreciates some periods of being alone. And while it’s important to respect a depressed individual’s space, experts say it is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to involvement even if it seems efforts are futile.
Family Guidance Center offers coordinated care programs for those living with depression. Everyone has times when they experience symptoms of depression, but depression doesn’t have to define a person or dictate the course of their life. Help is available. For more information, contact Family Guidance Center.