Someone you care about is depressed and you’re stuck in analysis paralysis because:
you don’t know what to do as you have never had to deal with someone who is depressed.
you think: “I’ll just ghost her/him until they get better”
You attempt to cheer them up because you assume it’s just temporary sadness and this person is too phenomenal to be depressed and you can fix it.
There is plenty of information out there that could help you to figure out how best to support your depressed loved one. There are some things you should stop doing because it perpetuates stigma and with depression predicted to be the number one disease by 2020, it’s about time we educate ourselves about what we can do and…
WHAT YOU SHOULD STOP DOING
Stop trying to medicate them with your own concoctions
Your recipe for healing their depression may be wrong and you may unintentionally be burdening them even further with all your magic ideas to make depression disappear. They are already so overwhelmed with thoughts of their own trying to get themselves out of the dark hole they’re in.
Stop taking on their healing responsibility as your own.
Recovery is the depressed person’s responsibility and trying to do things that you think will make them better on their behalf will exhaust you.
Stop taking offense
At some point, you may need to accept that the manner in which your loved one is interacting with you has changed and they may not be meeting the requirements you had to maintain the relationship in the same way. Pain changes people.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do ask them what they need
Sometimes someone who is depressed can articulate the type of support they need from you. Your task then becomes putting your ego aside about what you think will make you feel like a supportive person and doing what they actually need to feel supported.
Do listen to their support specifications
When your loved one says they don’t want to talk, listen. Perhaps all they want you to do is just sit with them. Sit in silence or simply be there as they do tasks. Apply the Platinum Rule.
Do pay attention
When conversations about their problems stop and they display some kind of happiness at that moment because they are distracted by dance or helping others, note that. Try to suggest doing more of that activity, keeping in mind the first two DOs.
Do encourage small
For every small goal you seem them accomplish, celebrate that even if it something as simple as getting out of bed.
Do educate yourself
At times symptoms of depression are foreign to your perceived understanding and you may have to learn that certain behaviour is a direct result of their mental state.
Do express concern
Lashing out and isolation from people is common in people who suffer from depression so communicate if their actions are hurtful and do NOT be afraid to distance yourself from them for a while if it’s necessary for your own mental health.
I have inserted a sound clip from a mental health awareness discussion where Dr. Nokukhanya Khanyile explains some things you can DOs you can try in terms of supporting a depressed person (some of which I have mentioned but of course, when advice comes from a professional it tends to hold more credibility).
Be mental health aware.