Depression is a debilitating disease that affects not only the depressed person but also those who live with them. When someone is depressed, they tend to feel sad, hopeless, helpless, tired, irritated, and worthless. They may withdraw from those around them and lose interest in all activities. Because they may look normal on the outside, it can seem to family members and friends that things really “aren’t that bad.” Unfortunately, for the person who is struggling with depression, things often feel worse than they appear. As a result, family members and friends often struggle to understand how to help their loved one or how to manage the impacts of depression on the family.
Some of the common experiences that family members and friends have when a loved one is depressed include:
- Concern and worry – Initially, family members and friends often react with concern and compassion when a loved one becomes depressed. They may not understand the depression or know how to help, but they want their loved one to feel better.
- Feel rejected – When someone is depressed, they often withdraw. As a result, family members may over time begin to feel rejected and unwanted.
- Feel alone – Because they may lose interest in all activities, a person who is depressed may quit participating in hobbies or activities involving the family. Family members usually feel this absence and often feel increasingly alone and isolated as a result.
- Feel resentful – Family members often take on more responsibilities to compensate for the decreased energy and involvement from their depressed loved one. This can lead to feelings of hurt and resentment.
- Feel exhausted – The more responsibilities that family members take on, the more they may begin to feel exhausted by the demands.
- Compassion Fatigue – Many family members and friends initially are sympathetic to the struggles of their depressed loved one. This compassion may begin to wane over time as the family becomes “tired of dealing with the depression.”
- Withdrawal – Sometimes family members or friends begin to withdraw from the depressed individual. This is sometimes called “Vanishing Friends.”
If you have a family member that is depressed, it is important to realize that they don’t want to feel the way they do. Depression is not something that they chose and is not a defect in their character. Depression is an illness that zaps a person’s energy and replaces it with feelings of “doom and gloom.” If left untreated, depression can lead to long turn health consequences and/or suicide. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help if you know someone who is depressed.
How to Help Someone Who is Depressed
- Be supportive – Remember, no one wants to be depressed. A person who is depressed needs support. Let them know that you still care about them and that they are important to you.
- Give them hope – Let your loved one know that there is hope and that they are not alone. Depression is a treatable illness.
- Let them talk – Words are one of the best tools that we have to deal with emotions. The more we are able to talk through our emotions, the less power they tend to have over us.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.