Depression is one of the most helpless and frustrating experiences a person can have. It’s sometimes feeling sad, sometimes feeling empty, and sometimes feeling absolutely nothing at all. There are times when depression can leave someone feeling paralyzed in their own mind and body, unable to do the things they used to love to do or the things they know they should be doing. Here are some effective ways on dealing with them.
1. It’s important to discuss and create boundaries.
In those moments of frustration it’s important to take a step back and look at how you can help the depressed person while also maintaining your own sense of happiness and fulfillment. Be patient. Talk to them about your concerns and explain the boundaries you need to create within your relationship. Find out something that works for both of you.
2. Try not to compare your experiences with theirs.
When someone is going through a rough time we often want to share with them our own stories to let them know you’ve gone through something similar and can relate with their struggle. When you say something like, “oh yeah, this one time I was depressed too…” it only makes them feel like you’re minimizing their pain. Express empathy but don’t suppress their feelings. The greatest resource you can share with your friend is your ability to listen. That’s all they really need.
3. It’s okay to ask your friend about what they feel.
How are they really feeling and how are they coping with their depression? Suicidal thoughts are a common occurrence for depressed people and it is okay to directly ask them ways they’re practicing self-care and to come up with a safety plan for times when their depression becomes too overwhelming.
4. Schedule time to spend together.
Offer to spend time with them once or twice a week to exercise, grocery shop, or hang out together. Ask if you can cook dinner with them and plan a friend date. One of the hardest parts of depression is feeling too exhausted to cook healthy meals, so you can really help them out by cooking food they can store in their fridge or freezer for a later time.
5. Just because someone is depressed doesn’t mean that they are weak.
It’s important to remember depression is not something that should be considered shameful and experiencing it doesn’t make someone weak or inadequate.
6. Avoid making demands or using a tough-love approach.
Telling someone you’re going to break up with them or not talk to them anymore if they don’t get better is not going to magically cure them of their illness. They won’t suddenly become the person you want them to be just because you’re tired of dealing with their problems. It’s a personal decision to walk away from someone if their issues become too much for you and your relationship with them, but thinking the ‘tough-love’ approach will make them better is unrealistic and manipulative.
7. Sometimes they have to push you away before they can bring you closer.
People who suffer from depression often get frustrated with feeling like they’re a burden on other people. This causes them to isolate themselves and push away people they need the most, mentally exhausting themselves from worrying about if they’re weighing their loved ones down with their sadness. If they become distant, just remember to let them know you’re still there, but don’t try to force them to hang out or talk about what’s going on if they don’t want to.