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Depression is a quiet epidemic that seems to be gradually creeping in to the families and social circles of many people I know. I hear friends recount how their families took some time to accept their condition and offer the kind of support that they need. In some cases, depression leads to more confusion and frustration among people who wish to help.
These days, it pays to be equipped even in the simplest ways. You will be surprised that many people who suffer from depression and other similar disorders appear to have regular happy lives on social media and even in real life. They can be your childhood best friend, the most popular girl or boy in high school, one of your direct reports, or sometimes, your very own loved one.
Here are some ways on how you can help them:
- Seek a qualified professional. There is no other person who is more equipped to help than a professional who is trained to address depression. Go for one who is recommended by someone you know, or has good reviews in online forums and social media groups. Be confident about asking their schedules and rates as you want a treatment scheme that can be sustained.
- Set aside your ego. You will find out in the next few points that it is not about you.
- Be careful not to blame or cause guilt. There is the tendency to blame your self or your loved one who goes through depression, especially when you feel that you have given the best of everything. Quit it. Blaming is counterproductive as guilt will worsen depression and anxiety, and it will also make it hard for you to come into terms with the situation. Sometimes depression happens as a result of several circumstances that began in childhood; sometimes it is a result of one traumatic experience that neither of you may have willed to happen; and some mental disorders may be hereditary, too.
- Listen but do not give advice. One of the greatest acts that you can show to someone with depression is listening—empathetically. Often, it will be hard to find the right words to say. Just let it be. Listen. You do not have to give advice.
- Establish healthy boundaries. It can become taxing to deal with someone who is confused. Practice self-care by setting your physical and emotional boundaries. Doing so will also help your loved one in the healing process.
- Allow the person to own her healing process—to desire it and take the necessary steps. Without the healthy boundaries that you established, there will be the risk of dependence that will render any attempts to healing futile.
- Educate your self. Talk to the doctor who is administering your loved one's treatment. Ask questions. Also, read books about the diagnosis. Books are better than blogs as the former are often based on good research. There are many laymanized books on depression and other related mental health conditions on Amazon and in most bookstores.
- Assure them of your love. Despite having your healthy boundaries, a firm assurance of your care and concern in words is comforting.
- Consider the element of faith. One of the most effective therapists I know has observed that healing often comes easier for those who have something to hold on when everything in their lives seems to fall apart than those who do not.
For more information and advice with regard to a loved one who may be suffering from depression, please go to a trained medical professional.
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