How to Support Someone That Is Going Through a Depressive Episode

Posted August 10, 2022 by in Health + Fitness
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In recent years, it’s estimated that around 8.4% of adults in the United States have had at least one depressive episode. This is often closed as losing interest in their daily activities, or just having a really poor mood that makes it difficult for them to focus on their daily life. Depression is a very real illness that can often be mischaracterized, especially by people that think curing it is as easy as putting on a smile and getting on with life.

Unfortunately, depression can become an incredibly dangerous condition that could put lives at risk. Due to all of the stigma, myths, and misunderstandings around depression, it’s classed as a concern that could be life-threatening if managed incorrectly. Sometimes depression can be a sign of a more serious condition that could need management with quality hospice care.

One of the most difficult things about dealing with depression is helping friends and family members that are going through it. While they themselves might feel pessimistic and lack interest in things, it can also drastically impact your life as well. This is especially the case if it’s a close friend, family member, or spouse.

So in this post, we’re going to offer a few tips to help you provide the right amount and level of support to someone that is going through a depressive episode.

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Always treat it as depression even if you have your doubts

There’s absolutely no doubt that some people will feign depression or something similar in order to garner attention and get something from you. Sometimes they aren’t doing this on purpose, but sometimes it can be extremely malicious and manipulative of someone to use depression as a weapon against you. Unfortunately, unless there is concrete proof that it’s the case for the person you are supporting, you always have to treat it as depression and put your doubts aside.

The moment you start suspecting someone of faking it is the moment they start to lose help and feel lost. Always provide support to people and always treat them as if depression is really affecting them. Later on, you might find out that they were faking it, but the consequences of accusing someone can be extremely dangerous if you’re wrong.

Understand what support means to the person you want to help

Everyone deals with depression in their own way. Some people cope by playing video games and watching their favorite television shows, but others might distract themselves with exercise and work. Whatever someone’s coping mechanism is, it’s important that you respect it and understand what it means for you to provide support. Some people might prefer it if you’re around to help them with things that they need, and they might also enjoy your company. However, others might prefer to be left alone and to only speak with you when they’re feeling a little better. Everyone is different, but how do you identify what is the right amount of help?

One of the best ways is to just speak to them. Find out what it is they want, but don’t be too pushy if it seems like they don’t want to reveal too much. They might not feel comfortable opening up to you, or they could just be confused, depressed, and struggling with their mental health which makes it hard for them to give you a definitive answer. As such, start by just talking to them and see where things go from there. Whether it’s just giving them company or helping to relieve them of household chores, everyone can be supported in different ways.

Should you mention treatment options?

Not everyone reacts positively to the idea of getting mental health treatment. In fact, some people would be unwilling to admit they have depression even if they are clearly exhibiting signs of it. These types of people can be hard to support when they go through a depressive episode, but they are no less deserving of your care and attention than others.

Even if you spend time finding the best treatment for depression, there’s no guarantee that your loved one will accept it. Not everyone likes the idea of taking medication for depression, and even fewer are drawn to the idea of taking a break in a rehab center for depression. Some people just need time to collect their thoughts and deal with depression, so try not to be too hard on someone that refuses treatment.

However, if you do mention treatment and your loved one agrees, then make sure they’re still in control of how they want to approach it. Research treatment options and let them know what you’ve found, don’t push them to do something they don’t want to, and always be transparent about your motives when you help them.

Encourage a return to normalcy

One of the most difficult things to do for someone that is going through a depressive episode is to return to their normal schedule. They might tell themselves that it’s impossible to go back to a normal schedule, they might feel like they’ve lost contact with their friends and they can’t get them back, or they might be worried that everything at work has changed. Regardless of the situation, it’s vital that you encourage them to build up their schedule once again so they can return to a normal lifestyle.

Sometimes this involves inviting them out to dinner or a bar like you used to. Other times, it could mean encouraging them to cook a decent meal instead of eating fast food. Younger people might find it helpful to have their friends come around to play video games. The goal here is to promote self-care and to get back into a routine of doing things. This helps to distract them from their depression, but also gives them hope that they can soon return to normalcy and leave behind their depression episode.

The important thing to remember is that everyone deals with depression in their own way. Give them space, but try to keep an eye on their activities and encourage them to return to a normal routine.