With 3 million Australians currently living with depression or anxiety (1), depression is known as the “common cold” of mental illnesses. These conditions can go for months, even years, if left untreated.
However there are many ways in which you can help a loved one experiencing depression.
First of all:
- Have you noticed any changes in their behaviour or mood?
- Has the person’s eating or sleeping pattern changed recently?
- Are you concerned that they might be using alcohol, food, or drugs to manage the symptoms?
If any of these questions have come to your mind, let the person know, and tell them you are concerned.
Practical Ways to Help your Loved One
Next, offer a listening ear so that they can describe what they have been experiencing. It is important that the person does not feel judged or criticised, so rather than pressuring the person to “get it together” or “shake it off”, allow them time to feel really heard.
Depression and anxiety are complex conditions that affect a person’s physical as well as mental health, and the person may respond to the condition with feelings of embarrassment, guilt, shame, or fear of being a burden on others. Listening non-judgmentally will help challenge these negative feelings, and enable the person to feel respected and supported.
From here, you can suggest the person seeks professional help from a counsellor or doctor, and if they are nervous about the process, offer to go with them.
You can also encourage them to seek information and resources from trustworthy websites.
People experiencing depression or anxiety tend to withdraw socially, so offering to spend time with the person and encouraging other loved ones to invite them out can be helpful, as long as the person does not feel pressured or obligated to say “yes”. Keeping the social invitations open is a positive step.
Finally, make sure you take care of yourself. It is hard to watch a loved one struggling with anxiety or depression, but using the steps described above will help you help them access appropriate information and professional help.
Please Note: Naomi is not currently practising at Vision Psychology, but is continuing to provide supervision for provisional (including 4+2 and 5+1) and registered psychologists, and for ministry agents in the wider Christian community. If you would like information regarding supervision, or want to book an appointment with a Christian psychologist, please contact Reception on 1800 877 924.