How to Support Someone with Depression
Depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects millions of people around. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. In Northern Ireland, the rates of depression are much higher than the rest of the UK, with 1 in 6 adults here taking anti-depressants. Common symptoms of depression are an unusually sad mood that doesn’t go away, loss of enjoyment and interest in activities that used to be enjoyable, tiredness, and lack of energy. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, it is important to know that you are not alone. It is an illness, and like any other illness, it can be prevented, treated and recovered from. The first step should always be a GP visit but there are steps you can take at home to help.
When living with or supporting someone who is suffering from depression, it is normal to experience difficult emotions. Relatives and friends of people suffering from depression commonly report feeling helpless, frustrated, angry, scared, guilty, and sad. These feelings are all normal. It’s not easy dealing with a friend or family member’s depression. You must try not to take your loved one’s depression too personally; they are not trying to hurt you and often can’t help from lashing out. It is crucial to look after your own mental health during this time to try to prevent becoming overwhelmed.
Your support and companionship can be crucial to your loved one’s recovery. By being there for them during their difficult times, you can help them cope with their depressive symptoms and aid them in regaining their energy and positivity.
How can I help someone with depression?
It can be very difficult to start a conversation about depression and mental health, especially with someone close to us. If you are feeling nervous about approaching this, try to remind yourself why you are doing it. Talking is always positive, and it’s the first step to recovery. The following steps may be of help to you remember that listening is the most important thing you can do to help.
Things to say…
“I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”
“Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”
“When did you begin feeling like this?”
“Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?”
“How can I best support you right now/today?”
“Have you thought about getting help?”
“You are not alone. I am here for you.”
It is important to try to encourage your friend or relative to get professional help. The first step should be a visit to their GP - you can go with them for support.
You cannot single-handedly ‘fix’ a depressed person – but you can help them on their journey to recovery. These recovery journeys can be long (it will not happen overnight) but they are possible with the right support, and they are happening every day.
AWARE Support Groups
We have a network of support groups that are run by our trained volunteers. Support groups welcome people with depression and bipolar disorder as well as carers for people with the illness. The aim of the groups is to bring together people who are suffering and invite them to share their experiences and discuss coping mechanisms.
For more info on our support groups, click here.
Further help and info…
Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
They provide confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.
Telephone: 0808 808 8000
Crisis response helpline service for people who are experiencing distress or despair. No matter what your age or where you live in Northern Ireland if you are or someone you know is in distress or despair, Lifeline is there to help.