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Mental Health

What to do when your loved one suffers from depression

How do you deal with your significant other’s mental illness or illnesses? We’re not doctors or psychiatrists, so what can we do to help? While we may not be able to write prescriptions or suggest the correct treatment methods, here is how you can provide a supportive environment for your loved one that may be suffering from depression.

Take the time to learn about depression

People with depression can have good days, they can have bad days. Depressed people usually suffer from mood swings as well. You can always ask a professional for reading materials about depression or check out books at the library. According to Psycom, here are common signs of depression:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

  • Changes in appetite.

  • Getting little sleep or too much sleep.

  • Loss of interest in normal activities.

  • Fatigue.

  • Anger outbursts.

  • Trouble thinking or concentrating.

  • Feelings of guilt.

Be there for them

You may not have all the answers to your loved one’s depression, but you can always be there for them. Just sit and listen to them; offer them reassuring words. Here are some comforting words you can say to your loved one in their time of need:

  • “Tell me what I can do to help.”

  • “You are important to me.”

  • “I am here for you.”

  • “We will get through this together.”

Create a supportive home environment

While you can’t exactly “fix” someone’s depression, you can help them take the steps to a better environment.

  • Focus on eating healthier.

  • Exercise daily. Exercising regularly can help boost your mood and happiness.

  • Take them to a therapist. Once they’ve agreed to go, drive them to their appointments or sit with them, if they are okay with it. Showing that you care is always important.

  • Make plans together. Depressed people usually lose interest in daily activities, so try to plan a date night or take them to the movies to keep them busy.

Focus on small goals

Small goals like getting out of bed can be monumental for people who are severely depressed. It’s hard for some depressed people to take showers, remember to eat or get out of the house. It’s important to be patient. It may take a long time for your partner to get better, but celebrating the small steps to recovery are important.

Know the signs of suicide

If your significant other becomes severely depressed, they may become suicidal. It’s always important to know the signs so you can help in their time of need. Warning signs include:

  • Talking about suicide

  • Getting the means to attempt suicide, such as buying a gun or hoarding pills.

  • Preoccupied with thoughts of death.

  • Engaging in risky or self-destructive behavior, such as drug or alcohol abuse.

  • Giving away belongings.

If you are looking for more information about depression and suicide prevention, visit the National Institute of Mental Health.

Sara is an Integrative Public Relations Major at Central Michigan University. She hopes to work in a PR agency one day, managing social media for clients. When she's not reading yet another book from one of her three bookshelves, she can be found cuddling her cats, Luna and Selene. 
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