My Battle For Better Health: 5 Things You Can Do To Help Someone With Depression

11/16/2015 House of Geekiness 34 Comments

Depression is a lonely disease that makes all of us feel helpless. As someone who has had depression for almost my entire life, I've written a short bit for those who wonder what they can do to help someone with depression.

We all have days when we're sad or don't want to get out of bed. This article can help with that, but what I'm really talking about is Clinical Depression, aka Major Depressive Disorder, and other forms of long term depression.
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My husband and I both suffer from Clinical Depression. I've had it since childhood. It's something I'm very open about because I want help and because I want to help others if I can. (You can read more about my battle with depression here.) There's a huge amount of people in our area with depression, and a church leader recently asked me what she could to do help us. Thus, this article. Thank you for caring enough to ask, Charlene!

Here are 5 small things you can do to help someone with depression that can make a huge difference.

1. NEVER assume or even think that it's all in their head
Depression is an illness, not just a mindset. There are ways to help the symptoms, but it's not something you just get over. Want more info? Here's what the National Institute of Mental Health and the Mayo Clinic have to say about depression.

2. Don't Judge
Yes, there are things I can do to feel better, but don't ever tell someone that depression is their fault. Depression does not discriminate. Good people get it, people who are active and deserve the best the world can give them. Brains are complicated, and no one knows for sure the exact cause of every case. According the the NIMH, "depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors."  So, unless you're smarter than the world's most brilliant medical minds, please don't judge.

Don't tell me what I'm doing wrong or what I need to do. Don't spout advice, we've heard it all before. Unless I trust you enough to ask for help, please don't.

Even though it influences everything I do, I am not my disease. Sometimes we fail, sometimes we do stupid things, sometimes we give up, and sometimes we excel.

3. Be there, let them know they're not alone
I can tell you from experience that when someone takes even a few minutes to sit and talk, it helps a lot. When this happens, I feel loved and feel like someone cares enough about me to see how I'm doing or just share a laugh. This also goes along with "don't judge." Instead of giving unsolicited advice, if you truly care, try to see how I'm doing. If I can tell you care, and if I trust you, I am a million times more likely to come to you for help when I'm ready to accept it.

4. Help them see from a healthier perspective
Change is one thing that therapists have regularly recommended. They've told me to rearrange furniture, switch up my schedule, spend time with friends, exercise, or just get out of the house—any positive change that will help my brain jump onto a different track and help me be able to think more objectively and feel better.

That few minutes to talk can be amazing—keep it up! But helping me get out and visit the world that extends beyond my bubble can work wonders. And it doesn't have to be a huge production.

Depression often keeps me home-bound. Even getting out to do grocery shopping can be a huge ordeal. I know when a friend is headed to the store and they invite me, it lets me know that they care enough to think of me, lets me know that they care about my needs, helps me get the necessary shopping done in a more positive way than dragging myself to the store, helps me socialize, and, as an added bonus, it helps me get some exercise!

Other ways to help people get out: Inviting us for a short walk, to run errands, to a girls' (or guys') night out, to church, to get some ice cream (ice cream works miracles ;), a playdate for our kids while we sit and hang out, etc.

5. Help give us hope
Do any or all of the above, but also, help us see the good things in our lives. Depression makes everything more dark and difficult and tends to make the bad things overshadow the good. Point out the efforts you've seen us make, the progress, and the good things that are going on. (But be genuine! If you honestly don't see anything, then don't even try this. There's no faster way to lose trust than dishonestly, and we need friends and family we can trust.) Pointing these good things out can help us see that things may not be as dire as we thought and can give hope.

Back to the the help/advice... Depression is an illness, and we need help. There are different stages, different effects, and what works for one person doesn't always work for another. Anyone with depression should seek help through a doctor or therapist. However, if I'm not ready to accept help, none of your advice or doctor referrals will help. You can only lead a horse to water...

If you truly want to help someone with depression, do these things I've mentioned. If I can tell you care, and if I trust you, I am a much more likely to come to you for help when I'm ready to accept it. But even if I don't come to you for help, doing these things will make my world a brighter place.

Read more about My Battle for Better Health here.

My goals

I want to have energy to spend time and actually do activities with my family.
I want to be able to be physically active. I’m not saying I plan on running marathons, but being able to exercise and do basic housecleaning on a daily basis would be nice.
I want my mind to feel less foggy all the time so I can do my job well and enjoy being in the profession I love.
I want to be healthy and be at a healthy weight.
I want my life back! I will look for the best in my life and realize what I truly have, always striving to make it better.

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    1. I call it changing the channel. If my anxiety is getting bad or my depression is acting up I find something to distract myself. No matter if it is moving which room I am watching tv or playing on my cell phone, the change helps change my own perspective. I hate being one of those people that play on there phone at a restaurant but if I need to change the channel of my mind I do what I have to so I don't just sit at home. That always reminds me that you can never tell what a person is dealing with.

    2. Do you know. You aren't sick. Or it is just different perspective. Is your life nice? Do you live your dream? Have you ever tried to know yourself? Honestly and Truly?!?!?#??# Do you think they EVER! EVER! TRIED? You are just sick of them. From all of it. Realizing that you are living in waterfall of big life directing LieS .Get a school, get a job, get married, get a morgage, get a kid, get a dog, get a second kid, get .................WHATEVER! Do you understand? WHERE IS LIFE IN THIS??#?! Just silence. It's gone. Go to the mirror look at your eyes and say out loud "I LOVE YOU AND I AM PROUD OF YOU" and after...choose who do you want to be and think. For good. Don't write this anymore.

      1. The wording of your comment is a bit confusing but I'll try to answer your questions. Yes, I am "sick". I have been diagnosed with several clinical physical and mental illnesses by multiple licensed medical professionals.

        Yes, I am sick of all the this and I want to be well. I've gone to school. I do have a job (several in fact since I own my own business). I AM married. I have 3 kids. Dog? Check! I have 2 cats as well.

        It's really easy to get lost in your own worries and misery, whether you have clinical depression or not. The whole point of these posts is to help myself and people with similar issues learn to pull ourselves out of it all and enjoy life.

        Yes! I do love myself and I am very proud of all I have been able to accomplish. I'm going to keep on doing it, which means I will keep writing. :)

    3. What a wonderful post. I'm struggling big time to pull myself out of it and enjoy life. I'm almost giving up.

      1. Penelope,
        It's a daily struggle. Do you have anyone you can talk to? Anyone you can turn to when you do feel like giving up?

        Don't give up!

        One thing that helps me when I want to give up is telling myself that I just have to get through a few more seconds or a few more minutes. Then, I get to congratulate myself for getting that far, and then tell myself that I can do it again for just a few more minutes. Eventually, something changes and it's not all so hopeless for a bit longer.

    4. Love this! I've always been borderline, and kind of hop fences from time to time. It's been a bad bit lately, but knowing there are others struggling, and trying to help us, it helps. Getting out of the house has been big for me lately.

    5. So good to know I am not alone.

    6. Nice to hear I'm not alone in the way my brain wants to work. So very hard sometimes. But I do enjoy the post, and can relate.

      1. You are definitely NOT alone. I am constanly amazed by how many people have told me they have the same problems!

    7. I have some non life threatening physical ailments that get me down sometimes. Try as I do, I have no two way friendships. I am there for my 'friends' but they sure are never there for me. I don't bore them with my depressive thoughts, but invite them to lunch, or shopping, or just coffee to chit chat. They don't answer my calls or texts. I feel so alone. My family would help, but I don't want them to know I feel this way. I can't exercise right now due to an injury. My husband ignores me when he sees I am down. Everything I do for my mental and physical health is done alone. I DON'T WANT TO FEEL THIS WAY. Why do my so called friends abandon me. I go the extra mile for them. They never remember my restrictive ailments. Burning mouth syndrome drains my energy, limits my food choices. But I go on. I do and volunteer with a happy face and no negative words. Very lonely.

    8. Hello! Thank you for the very honest post. I have to admit that stopping myself from offering unwanted advice is the biggest struggle I have with depression. I figured out my depression. And it's such a relief I could cry and scream and hug every human on this planet. It's hard for me to not share what worked for me when I see people struggling, but I also remember when I was in that dark place and most of the things people said just amplified my understanding that I was messed up. I always did take a little solace in the fact that there were so many well meaning hands extending toward me in the darkness. Thanks again for the article.

    9. Thank you so much for sharing this article. As a mother of 19 year old triplet boys/men, I have seen each one of them fight moments of depression. As I, too, have some experience with it, I felt fairly equipped to help them. I could tell they were depressed even before they admitted it themselves. Articles like this are invaluable for arming unsuspecting parents, spouses, family and friends with actionable things they can do to support their depressed love ones. Helplessness is one of the worst feelings in the world so, again, thank you.

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    12. Hey friend, it is very well written article, thank you for the valuable and useful information you provide in this post. Keep up the good work! FYI, please check these depression, stress and anxiety related articles:

      Mental Stress in Children

      Depression In College Students

      How To Save Your Relationship

      Depression in Men

      You can also contact me at depressioncure.net@hotmail.com for link exchange, article exchange or for advertisement.

      Thanks a lot


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