Photo by Alexander Possingham on Unsplash

1. Understand them.

Honestly, this is really hard to do. Lucky for me, I have an incredible husband who himself had dealt with depression before and helped me cope with mine. He didn’t give up on me, even when I became the most sullen, non-responsive person. But when he was depressed, I did a terrible job of understanding how he felt, because I hadn’t experienced a level of sadness like his before. If you want to help someone who is depressed, then educate yourself through research and professional advice. It’s not enough to try and motivate or encourage someone who is struggling with depression to “cheer up” and get back to life. Any attempt at downplaying their feelings will only make it worse, so take the time to show you understand how they feel.

2. Love and support them.

Everybody is different, so it’s important to find out what being supportive means to your loved one. The best thing my husband did was stay positive and love me, despite my constant doom and gloom attitude. I didn’t want to talk, but I did want someone to sit with me so I wasn’t truly alone. I needed someone to motivate me to do things that took my mind off of the arthritis. I needed to see that there were enjoyable things out there and that my life could go on, if only I’d let it. It took a long time, but eventually I found activities and distractions. I stopped letting my arthritis dictate my thoughts and mood, and slowly but surely I overcame the feeling of hopelessness.

3. Help them.

For depressed people, just living everyday life becomes an insurmountable chore. It’s hard mustering up the energy to get out of bed and put clothes on, let alone take care of all the other daily responsibilities there are. So tasks start to pile up and suddenly it’s as if life is spiraling out of control, which makes the depression worse. But you can help with this by taking some of the burden off of their shoulders, at least temporarily. Try helping them with cooking, cleaning, laundry and other errands in order to alleviate some of the stress they’re feeling.

4. Take care of yourself too.

This one is huge. Remember that just because you do all of the other steps, doesn’t mean that the depression will just vanish overnight. It could take a long time and that person may never recognize how hard you’re working for them. You’ll not only wear yourself out trying to help them, but you’ll also start to feel stressed yourself. And depression can be contagious, so be mindful when you feel yourself falling victim to the negativity and take time to recharge yourself.

Stories of a former high school teacher, now business consultant. Husband. Travel fanatic. Obsessed coffee drinker. And all-around nerd.

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