Helpguide for Understanding Depression Part 2

How can family and friends help a depressed person?


The US National Institute of Mental Health suggests the following ways to help someone who is depressed:

Help him or her obtain an appropriate diagnosis and treatment that may include:

  • Encouraging the individual to stay with treatment for several weeks, until symptoms begin to abate, or to seek different treatment if no improvement occurs
  • Making an appointment and accompanying the depressed person to the doctor.
  • Closely monitoring the person to be sure any medications are being taken according to doctors’ orders.

It is important to offer emotional support, through the following.

  • Provide understanding, patience, affection, and encouragement.
  • Engage the depressed person in conversation and listen carefully.
  • Do not disparage feelings expres­sed, but point out realities and offer hope.
  • Do not ignore remarks about suicide. Report them to the depressed person’s therapist.
  • Invite him or her for walks or outings, to the movies, and to other activities. Be gently insistent if your invitation is refused.
  • Encourage participation in activities that once gave pleasure such as hobbies, sports, and religious or cultural activities.
  • Do not push the person to undertake too much too soon. He or she needs diversion and company, but too many demands can increase feelings of failure.

Do not accuse the depressed person of faking illness or of laziness, or expect him or her to “snap out of it.”

Eventually, with treatment, most people do get better. Keep that in mind, and keep reassuring the depressed person that, with time and help, he or she will feel better.

Most people have experienced a depressed mood at some point in their lives, but depression is quite different from a depressed mood.

There is a point at which a depressed mood moves from a response to a state, when stress creates persistent adverse changes in brain functioning.

Strong support from friends and family and a healthy lifestyle can help a person overcome depression and cope with extreme difficulties.



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But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. - 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (NIV)