How can we best cope with and be supportive to a depressed friend, relative or work colleague?
What works? What doesn't work?
Caring & Support for Depression - The Depression Carer Mindset
Trying to draw depressed people back into "normality" by reasoning or contrived cheerfulness does not always work. Depression is a lonely and frightening place. Depressed people may need us to have the courage and solidity to enter their very real (to them) depressed world, establish our credibility and value there, then lead them (if they wish to follow) back to a more balanced perspective on life and their willing participation in it.
If that is too much for us to take on, we can still be helpful just by letting the person know that we are with them and that we care about them. Letting people know that we still value them and want to be with them - even if we do not do anything specific - can be powerfully supportive. We don't have to agree with how they see things, but it is important NOT to try getting them to "see reason". A better approach I find is to try to understand the reality of the depressed person, even if it seems rather misguided. If someone can understand (without correcting) just how they feel and how things look to them, then their sense of isolation and emptiness will begin to diminish.
There is a challenge here to recognise and take responsibility for our own feelings of depression. In couples, it is quite common for one person to express and experience symptoms of "depression" when in reality there is a depressed relationship affecting both people. Our reaction to a depressed person may reflect our own repressed depression i.e. we cannot cope with them because they put us in touch with our own repressed feelings of emptiness, helplessness or powerlessness.
It is vital to avoid polarising or "projecting" our own repressed depression onto a depressed person. Much better would be to share some sadness, feel it and move through it together. Sometimes a depressed person will even take the lead in moving forward through and out if shared sadness.
Remember the story of the wise Buddhist priest who saw a man collapsed with exhaustion by the roadside - instead of being the "non-weary" rescuer (an ego trip) he lay down beside the man and shared his own weariness - the exhausted man soon jumped up - he did not thank the Monk, because he felt that he had done the recovery on his own (with the monk making things even more difficult!) - but the monk had shown true love and great spiritual accomplishment.
If you live with, support, or work with a depressed person you need to understand
the self-sabotaging defeatist negativity of the...
Behavioural Therapy for Depression: Assertiveness Training Course
Help in Depression: Let Go and Let God! (You don't have to be Religious for this!)
Help for Depressives & Their Carers: UK Courses & Workshops Related to Depression
Sitemap & Word Search: this website
© Copyright 2017 Michael J. Meredith