Helping a Friend With Depression - What Not to Do

Living with a depressive disorder can be debilitating to everyday life. So, if you have a loved one who’s struggling with a depressive disorder, you may wonder what you can do to help. Support for a person struggling with any mental health disorder is important, so it’s great that helping a friend with depression is on your radar – your friend is going to need your support and encouragement. But, while there are many things you can do to provide this support, there are also some things you can steer clear of that can make matters worse. Knowing not just about the things you can do to help but also the things you shouldn’t do can allow you to provide the best type of support for a loved one living with a depressive disorder.

Avoid Telling Them That Happiness is a Choice

One thing that many people living with and diagnosed with a depressive disorder are often told is that happiness is their own responsibility. However, routine and normal sadness is different than severe mental health symptoms that are a result of a mental illness like a depressive disorder. So, people with depressive disorders don’t just have a switch they can flip in order to be ‘happy’. They have differences in brain chemistry and functioning that impair their ability to experience normal and manageable moods. So, avoid telling your loved one that deals with a depressive disorder that their happiness is a choice because, for them, it is not.

Don’t Compare Your Sadness to Theirs

It’s true that everyone feels sad from time to time. But, telling a person that is dealing with a depressive disorder that everyone feels sad isn’t helpful. Certainly, sadness is a normal, human emotion. However, the sadness, hopelessness, and despair that a person with a depressive disorder deals with isn’t the typical sadness a person without a mental health illness lives with. For people with depression, feelings of sadness may come about for no apparent reason. And, last for weeks on end. For people without depressive disorders, sadness is proportionate to an event or occurrence that has provoked sadness. So, if you’re wanting to be supportive to a loved one diagnosed with a depressive disorder, it doesn’t help to say things like, “everyone feels sad sometimes”. Rather, don’t compare your or anyone else’s sadness to the sadness of a person with a depressive disorder.

Don’t Suggest That They Need to Get Over Their Depression or Sadness

Depression isn’t something a person can just get over. It’s a mental health issue that may take years to heal from with the use of treatment, therapy, self-care, and a community of support. There is no cure for depression. There are just treatments that people can use in order to manage/reduce symptoms in order to live a life of better mental wellbeing. It’s something that a person who’s diagnosed will deal with for the remainder of their lifetime. Therefore, it’s only damaging and hurtful to suggest to a person struggling with a depressive disorder to ‘just get over it’.

Finding Treatment That Involves Loved Ones in Depressive Disorder Care

One thing that loved ones can do to support a person they care about who has been diagnosed with a depressive disorder is to get involved with treatment. This can include engaging in education sessions about depressive disorders in order to better understand why your loved one deals with depression, how to provide optimal support, and more. Furthermore, participating in counseling can also help loved ones of people diagnosed with depressive disorders to better understand how they’re feeling as mental health issues often affect the loved ones of those diagnosed.

Southcoast Psychiatric Services offers treatment and therapeutic care for people diagnosed with depressive disorders and family members who want to provide support for their loved ones. Find out more about our outpatient services and our location in Boca Raton, South Florida right on our website.