The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta reported in 2016 that one in 20 Americans 12 years of age and older suffer from depression. With as prevalent as this disease is in society today, one would assume that most people would know how to behave toward another individual who suffers from depression.
In fact, you may not know how to speak with someone with this illness or behave in a manner that does not aggravate his or her depression symptoms. You can help a depressed loved one by avoiding these nine behaviors when you speak with or visit this individual.
1. Mocking or Making Light of the Illness
People who do not understand what depression really is may be tempted to make light of it or even mock someone who suffers from it. Depression as a chronic illness is far more than just temporary moodiness or a brief period of feeling blue. It is a serious and devastating disease that can negatively impact every aspect of a sufferer’s life.
As such, it is critical that you do not make fun of the person or simply dismiss him or her as a drama queen or attention seeker. Your loved one suffers from a genuine medical condition that can be treated and managed with proper therapeutic intervention.
2. Saying the Depression Will Go Away
It is also important that you do not tell the person that his or her symptoms will eventually go away. Some people with depression experience intermittent relief and periods of happiness and even euphoria.
However, without proper depression treatment the symptoms eventually come back and are often more intense. Unlike illnesses like the common cold or hay fever, depression is not an illness that will simply go away on its own.
3. Saying It is God’s Plan
You should avoid telling your depressed loved one that his or her depression is part of God’s plan. Regardless of your religious affiliation or spiritual beliefs, it is vital that you recognize that depression is a genuine and serious medical condition that must be treated with therapy and antidepressants if necessary. You may aggravate and further depress your loved one by telling him or her that God wants this person to suffer.
4. Offering Drugs and Alcohol
People who suffer from depression are at an increased risk already of abusing drugs and alcohol. They do not need anyone to offer them a drink or drugs to help mask or numb their emotional and mental turmoil.
As much as you may hate to see your loved one suffer, you should avoid offering drugs and alcohol to this person. Instead, you should offer to help your loved one find a medical provider who can offer the right treatment for the disease.
5. Bragging about Your Own Good Life
People who are chronically depressed are already sensitive to what other people think of them or how they perceive other people to live. Even if everything in your life is going perfectly, it is important that you avoid bragging about your good fortune to the depressed loved one. You should save your good news about your life to share when your friend or relative is undergoing proper treatment for his or her depression.
6. Agreeing with the Person’s Depressed Beliefs and Emotions
Your friend or loved one may believe that everything in life is terrible and that there is no hope for the future. When depressed people believe that there is no hope, they put themselves at an increased risk of suicide or self-harm.
As such, you should not agree with the person that his or her life is awful and that the future is just as bleak. Agreeing with his or her depressed perception on life could encourage this individual to commit suicide. If this person says that he or she wants to die or is thinking about committing suicide, you should call 911 immediately.
7. Avoiding the Depressed Loved One Entirely
You may find speaking with your depressed loved one to be a trying if not troublesome experience. As much as it might distress you to be around this person, you should still make an effort to check in with him or her every few days.
You do not have to spend hours conversing with this individual. Still, the time that you do spend talking with him or her should be centered on encouraging this person to get professional help and to make an appointment with a licensed and qualified mental health provider.
8. Comparing the Person to Another Person with Depression
Depression affects each sufferer differently. The symptoms that your loved one feels may be entirely different to those symptoms that another person experiences.
With that, you should avoid comparing your depressed loved one to someone else you know with the same illness. Your friend or family member may not want to hear that this other person has the same illness or even that he or she is recovering well. Your loved one needs individualized attention and empathy to be guided toward professional treatment.
9. Saying that Your Loved One Does Not Need Help
Finally, you should avoid telling your loved one that he or she does not need professional help. As mentioned, depression is not an illness that will simply go away on its own.
Like a lingering infection in your blood, it might lessen and even recede briefly. However, it will often come back with a vengeance and cause as much if not more pain to the sufferer.
Your loved one’s best option to find relief from depression lies in getting immediate and professional mental health services. You should encourage him or her to call the local mental health provider today to start receiving treatment for his or her depression.
Depression is a serious illness for which prompt and professional medical and therapeutic services are warranted. You can help a friend or relative who suffers from this illness by encouraging him or her to seek proper help and by avoiding these nine behaviors.