Written by Brisbane Counselling Centre Psychologist, Natascha Madden.
Depression is a serious, widespread condition that directly affects more than a million Australians per year, with even higher representation among young Australians (aged 16 – 24). Fortunately, friends and loved ones can play a powerful role in helping someone with depression, often just by being there and reminding them they are loved.
If someone in your life is struggling with depression and you’re not sure how to help, here are some tips:
- Let them know you are there to listen and hear them out without judging them. Spend time hearing how it is for the person that is unwell.
- If you have noticed a change in your loved one gently let them know.
- Ask them if they would like help to learn more about depression and what treatments are available.
- Be patient and respectful. The pace the person with depression wants to go and you want them to go may differ.
- Suggest the value in seeing a doctor or a psychologist. Ask them if they need help with making an appointment. Often a person with depression has low levels of motivation, however, it is important the person makes decisions for themselves without having someone take over or tell them what they should be doing.
- Offer to take them to their initial appointment if they want and show an interest in how they went afterwards.
- Gently encourage them to eat well and get a good nights sleep if they can.
- As mentioned previously, motivation is often low with depression. Exercise is one of the best things a person can do to help themselves when they are feeling depressed. However, pushing a person to exercise can make them feel worse. You could gently suggest exercise or even offer to exercise with them, however, keep in mind the person may choose not exercise.
- Encourage people that are important to the person with depression to keep in regular contact and initiate outings, without placing pressure on them to participate.
- Encourage the person to stay away from medicating themselves with drugs and alcohol.
- Be supportive. Telling a person to “pull your socks up”, “snap out of it”, “wake up to yourself”, or “harden up” are all really unhelpful comments to make.
Depression is a common illness that needs to be treated as a serious issue and usually won’t go away if it is ignored or left untreated. Depression is not a sign of weakness and is a condition one can recover from if appropriate treatment is sought.
The following YouTube clip may help you to understand what a person feels like when they have depression.
Here’s another YouTube clip that provides helpful information about how to support someone with depression.
If you or a loved one need assistance working through depression, Brisbane Counselling Centre is here to help. Contact us today to learn how our experienced and compassionate psychologists can help you.