What to Do When a Loved One Is Severely Depressed
June 29, 2018
Mental health experts have tips for helping loved ones struggling with severe depression. They recommend showing up, listening, and ensuring the person does not feel alone. Instead of offering advice or trying to cheer them up, acknowledge the pain they are experiencing. Ask whether they are feeling suicidal, and take any mention of death or suicide seriously by connecting them with a mental health professional, suicide hotline, or emergency services. “It’s important to know you can’t trigger suicidal thinking just by asking about it,” said Allen Doederlein, executive vice president of external affairs at the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. It’s also important to remember that while you can facilitate and support a loved one’s recovery from depression, you alone cannot fix their problems. Experts recommend taking care of yourself and setting boundaries around the assistance you provide. Finally, remind yourself—and your loved one—that people can and do recover from depression. “When you shine the light on the shame, it gets better,” said Norman Rosenthal, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Spark Extra! Visit the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance website.