This article shares six easy to understand tips for living with someone suffering from Depression.
- Try to be considerate, thoughtful, and empathic. If your spouse had a broken leg, you would expect that their abilities and energy would be restricted, that they would be in pain at times, and that they couldn’t heal themselves more quickly just because you wanted them to. Think about depression the same way.
- Don’t be provocative. Every relationship has the little hot buttons that can start a fight at any time. Dirty socks on the floor, the remote control misplaced, the car low on gas. You know what your partner’s buttons are. Don’t push them while he/she is in a depressed state.
- Small acts of kindness are appreciated, and do help, even if the recipient doesn’t reciprocate. When I retreat to bed, my wife makes a point of breaking in to kiss me goodnight. Even though I don’t usually act very glad to see her, I would feel worse, lonely and unloved, without her attention.
- Easing your partner’s burden in small ways can help a great deal. Offer to do the shopping, empty the garbage, do the laundry, take the kids out for pizza. It communicates more than words the feeling that you understand how difficult these mundane chores can seem at times.
- “Advance directives” can be a contract loved ones arrange while the sufferer is not depressed, describing what to do when depression sets in. It can be in stages: stage 1, leave me alone; stage 2, be kind, patient, and attentive; stage 3, insist I call my therapist; stage 4, take me to the hospital. One patient loses her ability to see color when depression sets in. From experience, she has learned to let her husband know when this happens, because she won’t let him know when it gets worse.
- Take the trouble to educate yourself. Learn all you can about depression. Be willing to talk to your friend’s therapist. It’s amazing how seeing it in print, or hearing it from an authority, can change your perspective. Even if you believe you understand that depression is a disease, that the patient doesn’t choose to be depressed, etc. etc., you need all the education you can get. These are facts we don’t want to believe. Learning the facts helps you help your friend, and also shows that you care enough to take some trouble.