Searching for the magic cure to help a friend, sibling or anyone you may know that suffers from mental health issues? The answer many people (including myself) have been looking for is – you can’t. You cannot ‘fix’ someone with depression, you cannot fix someone at all. And before you get all ruffled and down about it, the truth is – you’re not expected to fix anyone at all. However, there are steps you can take to support someone who suffers from the condition:
More ears, less mouth
Although it sounds so cliché and simple, you have to admit, there has been a time when someone has gone off on a rant to you, and rather than taking the time to fully listen, you’ve then gone off and made comparisons of whose had it worse: “Well, my day was much worse, I almost got hit by three cars and a bus, so trust me, your day was nothing.”
Symptoms will differ
Learn to spot the symptoms of depression first; you may have been sad three weeks ago about failing your driving test and therefore downplay depression because “you know how it feels.” The truth is – you don’t. And that is completely okay. However, to be the support one may need, you need to recognise the symptoms which include but are not limited to;
- Loss of motivation & interest in things
- Low self-esteem
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Suicidal thoughts
- Lack of energy & sex drive
- Moving or speaking more slowly than usual
- Neglect of hobbies and taking part in fewer social activities
- Irritable and non-tolerant others
- Reckless behaviour incl. drugs
We are still human
Although it is important to be supportive and encouraging, do not over-do it. You do not have to watch over them whilst they’re on the loo; personal space is very important and being overprotective may make them feel only more hopeless and a burden. Try not to be controlling; maybe they don’t feel like heading out on this particular night – try to encourage an indoor movie night to lift their mood.
Look after yourself first
It is extremely important to look after yourself, or you have nothing to offer. It is ok to speak to a friend, sibling, parent, doctor, etc – let them know how you feel, don’t feel bad about ‘betraying’ your friend, you are not harming them in any way by doing so and in the long run, they will appreciate it.
If you or somebody you know is suffering from depression, you can contact various helplines for support.
- Samaritans : Call 116 123 or email Jo@samaritans.org
- Students Against Depression: studentsagainstdepression.org
- Young Minds: Call 0808 802 5544 or email youngminds.org.uk
- Mind: Call 0300 123 3393
You are never alone.
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