You have to take care of yourself, too.
Living with a partner or family member who suffers from depression or mental illness can feel like a big challenge for most people. Many of those who find themselves in this position are not sure what to do, or how to help the one they love.
It can be hard talking about the impact of the situation with the affected person (who may not even recognize they're depressed). This makes addressing the issue even more daunting.
And, sometimes it's impossible to fully understand the sick person's state, which makes you feel frustrated, anxious, or even angry.
In instances when one's spouse is depressed, misunderstandings can even lead to divorce.
Yet, medical professionals often indicate how important it is to have family support when someone is undergoing treatment for depression. Such support is especially important in the medication process and in attending therapy sessions.
Signs That a Family Member Is Depressed
The first key thing in helping a family member who is depressed is to know how to read the true signs of depression. These signs include:
- Irritability, anger, and emotional outbursts
- Loss of interest in things that were previously interested in
- Slow body activity, weakness, or weight loss
- Sleepiness, insomnia, and frequent complains of tiredness
- Low concentration span, slowed thinking speed, and poor memory
- Increase suicidal thoughts, sadness, and self-blame
- Signs of depression related diseases such as headaches and back pains
These are just some of the common symptoms of depression. Many others exist. For example, depression can affect your loved one's ability to perform day-to-day activities at home or in their work places. Adults who go through this can become withdrawn or feel miserable. Teens frequently show increased irritability in a bid to fight the sadness common under depression.
How To Help The Depressed Person You Love
There is no doubt that support from family is highly valuable to helping a loved one deal with depression. However, the form of help each patient needs varies depending on the case at hand. Here are a number of steps you can take depending on the state of your affected family member:
1. Offer your company during treatment.
Since the medication period for a person suffering from depression can be lengthy, support from other family members is very important. Offer to accompany them to therapy sessions or help them schedule medication, provide reports to a therapist, or book appointments when the need arises.
2. Lend your emotional support.
Many cases of depression cause patients to feel irritable and they become withdrawn. Let the sick person know you care. This can go a long way in aiding the healing process. Simply text them, call them, hang out with them, or just let them know that you know they're going through this and you're there.
3. Learn more about depression.
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. Gaining a deeper understanding about depression helps a great deal in coping with the affected person. It can also help create realistic expectations about that person's condition.
Being informed also helps you educate other family members and the people that interact with the sick family member.
4. Visit a marriage counselor (alone and together).
Obviously this is especially important in cases where the depressed person is a spouse, although your child's depression can negatively impact your marriage, as well. Depression can easily break the bonds of a marriage.
Seeking counseling as a couple can open the eyes of both partners and help each of you cope better.
5. Share your feelings with other family members.
There are times when depression can weigh heavily on the whole family when one member is affected. The best way to cope with such a situation is to communicate openly about the experiences each member is having.
This helps each person understand the state of their sick relative, and those affected can articulate their frustrations. Handling the challenges together can make handling it much easier.
As much as the depressed person requires emotional help, it's also important to let them know the effect their condition has on the entire family and others. Ease the burden of carrying the entire weight alone and draw on the cooperation of the sick person.
6. Have an emergency plan in place.
It is not uncommon for a depressed person to take drastic actions to deal with their emotions. This can even include attempting suicide. The family member offering help with the depression should always have a contingency plan ready in case something like this ever happens.
7. Take care of yourself.
As a caretaker, you should also take time away from the stressful situation to address your own needs. Taking great care of yourself helps ensures that your whole family doesn't end up suffering from the same condition due to the weight of carrying this emotional burden.