Watching a loved one suffer from depression is incredibly difficult. All you want to do is help them feel better. But when it becomes obvious you can’t take their pain away, you can become frustrated.

As a friend or family member of someone suffering from depression, it’s important to remember that your loved one is dealing with a real medical condition and you are, most likely, not equipped to handle their recovery alone.

Having said that, there are things you can do to support your loved one and help them on their journey back toward health and happiness.

Understand Treatment is Key

As we mentioned, depression is a medical condition and it requires treatment from a professional therapist. Do not try and take on someone’s depression by yourself. Yes, lend support, care, and compassion, but understand that they will need medical treatment, just as they would if their leg was broken. If they themselves do not recognize how important treatment is, do your best to help them understand.

Be Vocal

Often loved ones suffering from depression are the topic of conversation, but not part of it. It’s not enough to talk to other family members and discuss how concerned you are about your sister or uncle, let your sister and uncle know you see them suffering and you’re there for support. Offer to drive them to therapy or simply lend an ear. Those suffering from depression often feel lonely and isolated, so reach out as best you can.

Help Them Stay Part of the World

Those suffering from depression typically lose interest in activities they once found enjoyable. You can help your loved one by getting them active and part of the world once more. The key here is to be patient and stay committed. You can’t force your loved one to take you up on an invitation. Don’t bully them, just encourage them as best you can. Should they say “no” to your invite 50 times, don’t give up on them. Be patient, stay committed, and continue to extend your hand. Through weekly treatment they will eventually come around and say “yes.”

Get Educated

One of the best things you can possibly do to support your loved one who is suffering from depression is to learn as much about the condition as you possibly can. It’s a good idea to speak with their therapist to get recommendations of resources that will help you learn more.

Watching a loved one suffer from depression is not easy, but knowing there are ways you can help them will lighten the load for you both.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Priscilla Hurd, LPC, M.Ed.

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