What Should I Do To Support Someone Living With Depression?

Our innate reaction to someone living with depression is simple. We want to make them feel “better”. Society has taught us to always feel and pursue happiness to the point that we often see sadness as a threat- as if someone else being sad might threaten our own ability to be sad or even humans as a whole. Depression in others can make us uncomfortable. Naturally, we’ve experienced sadness, even depression during grief, and taken time to recover from melancholy, hopeless feelings. Still, we “snap out of it” eventually. We are able to take control of our emotions once more, to find the good, and to get back to enjoying life again. Witnessing someone struggle with depression, we struggle to understand depression. Why can’t they just be happy? What we often don’t realize is that someone living with depression is asking themselves the exact same thing. They want to feel better. They want to live in happiness. They are aware that their pervasive feelings are not only uncomfortable for others, but somewhat shunned by society at large. As a result, people who are living with depression live with an unfortunate amount of shame, which only worsens the experiences of their emotions.

We don’t want to say or do the “wrong thing” when we are trying to support someone who is living with depression. The first thing we have to realize is that we cannot change how they are feeling. Despite all of our best efforts, we cannot cure their depression and suddenly cause them to feel better, be happier, or have a different outlook on life. Though depression can be situational, it is also a very real mental health diagnosis which can result from a chemical imbalance. Unfortunately, that is just out of our control. Rather than try to cheer someone with depression up, we honor their experience, meet them where they are, and ask them what they need from us. Bye showing up for someone living with depression, we stop showing them up and emphasizing the shame that they shouldn’t be feeling the way they are feeling.

        • We can ask our loved one what they need to feel supported, validated, and acknowledged.
        • We can bring them the comforts they desire and meet them where they are comfortable without shame or judgment.
        • We can encourage them to maintain a healthy lifestyle within their ability by eating a well rounded nutritious diet and getting at least 20 minutes of movement per day.
        • We can let them know that though we can’t understand what they are going through, we love them and support them with all of our hearts.

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