When Someone You Love Has Depression
When a person you love is suffering from depression, your own mental health can be at risk. Depression can put an overall strain on otherwise healthy relationships. Family members, friends, and partners play a crucial role in the recovery process. It is important for individuals who are closest to the person dealing with depression to adopt their own emotional coping strategies while providing support for their loved one.
Depression and Your Mental Health
There are several different types of depression that an individual can suffer from such as postpartum depression, clinical depression, and bipolar disorder. You may not be aware that someone is experiencing depression symptoms, but have noticed changes in your relationships with family members that affect your own emotional state. You may be experiencing feelings of anxiety and guilt if your partner has become less affectionate or if your child is suffering from teen depression.
Here are some common feelings experienced by individuals whose loved one is suffering from depression:
- Guilt. It is important to remember that it is not your fault that a family member or friend is suffering from depression. Depression is a medical condition that requires specific treatment.
- Isolation. Remember that you are not alone. Depression is a very common condition that many families have to cope with, and it is not uncommon to seek counseling or join support groups to help you deal with depression symptoms.
- Frustration, Anger, Resentment. These are all normal reactions caregivers often experience alongside compassion and understanding. Be patient and remember that depression treatment takes time. Your loved one’s behavior is symptomatic of depression and does not reflect their personal feelings toward you.
- Shock or Denial. This may be your initial reaction when finding out your loved one has depression. However, this can change into feelings of relief as your loved one finds appropriate treatment and begins to act like themselves again.
- Grief and Hopelessness. You may be grieving the loss of your loved one as you accept the new changes in your lifestyle. Remain supportive and don’t be discouraged. Remember that depression is extremely common, and has an 80% chance of improvement with treatment. Depression is cyclical and it is normal to feel overwhelmed if the signs of depression worsen in an individual.
Taking Care of Yourself and Your Needs
The effects of depression on family and friends can cause these individuals to experience anxiety and depression themselves. One of the first steps in dealing with depression is to become more aware of the condition itself.
If you develop signs of depression, you may need to take the time to care for your own state of mind. Take breaks by yourself, and talk to your friends to relieve any emotional or physical strain.
Keep pursuing things that bring you pleasure. Fun activities will help you replenish, and increase your energy when you are feeling low.
Don’t forget to take good care of your body. Your physical health will affect your mental health. Maintain a healthy diet and make sure you receive enough exercise, rest, and sunlight to ward off the effects of depression.
Try to keep a routine even when you have to make adjustments to care for your loved one. Don’t lose touch of your own friends and lifestyle, and remember to set healthy limits as to how involved you can be in the recovery process.
Encourage your loved one to create their own social network or to join support groups to take some of the pressure off you. Remember that while you can be an integral part of the healing process, you are not a therapist or medical doctor.
Finally, don’t be afraid to seek counseling or attend meetings with social groups yourself. The effects of depression on family and friends can be great, and it is vital to maintain your own community or social outlet so that you can remain healthy while helping your loved one. Don’t forget to give yourself all the credit you deserve in the process.