The first step in giving help and support to a depressed friend, relative or partner is to stop doing
the things that, at best, do not work or, at worst, make the depression worse
Step 1: Stop doing what DOES NOT work!
These things usually DO NOT work...
Telling or forcing someone to "Snap out of it!"
Depression is an experience rather like being dead, in that depressed people feel disconnected from life and not really living - spectators rather than participants in the game of life.
No one wants to feel like that, so we often "put a brave face on" to hide our depression. Hiding or denying depression just helps it to "fester" and grow - it creates a situation where the depressed person is separated from their true feelings and therefore ill-equipped to resolve or "move forward" through them.
Separation from our true feelings always creates an experience of unreality and a lack of spontaneity and "aliveness". This makes the misery of depression even worse. When people say "snap out of it" or similar words, they are not only encouraging the depressed person into an artificial, dysfunctional "separateness" from what is really going on inside them, but they are also abusing someone who, while depressed and feeling bad about themselves, is ill-equipped to defend their self from abuse. Depressed people are very vulnerable to words or actions that can be construed as critical, blaming or punishing. Criticism, blame or punishment increase the feelings of low self-worth that are a fundamental, underlying cause of depression.
There are exceptions to every rule, and there are occasions when ordering or encouraging a depressed person to "make an effort" or move out of their "withdrawn comfort zone" can enable them to climb out of a rut of low self-confidence, confront a problem they are avoiding, or break the chains of a negative perception of an opportunity that is presented to them. This is an example of intervention healing and as such, should only be tried when we are pretty sure that we are genuinely acting in the interests of the depressed person (having examined our own agenda) and have a reasonable prospect of success. Success is judged primarily by the depressed person later acknowledging that our interference was helpful. Intervention healing is only healing if the process is founded on, and enhances, respect for the healee as opposed to a boosting of the healer's ego, power or influence.
Trying to draw someone out of depression by persuasion, contrived cheerfulness or funny jokes
These things only work with very mild temporary feelings of depression.
In a persistent depressed mood the sufferer is in a "depressed reality" which the sufferer cannot easily and voluntarily let go of.
Trying to cajole, entice, manipulate or force the sufferer to rejoin the "ordinary world" can even be counter-productive - it can make the depressed person worse and maybe drag yourself down also.
Repeated failed attempts to "bring someone out of depression" can make their (and your) feelings of helplessness much worse - feeling helpless is one of the cornerstones that keeps depression in place.
Depressed people would like others to "understand" what they are experiencing - especially to understand how overwhelmingly powerful their depressed experience is. Attempts to minimise or deny the sufferers' experience can increase the feelings of frustration, isolation and helplessness that are already crippling the sufferer.
Correcting destructive, illogical, pessimistic viewpoints
Depressed people are prone to negative perceptions (i.e. miserable, pessimistic, angry or destructive views of themselves, other people, events, prospects etc), negative thinking and negative talking and negative (or absent) activities.
Amateur "helpers" instinctively try to "correct" these negative outpourings from depressed people.
However, this unreality cannot be directly corrected by reasoning or persuasion because it is driven by emotional & chemical energies. These negative energies need to be cleared before dysfunctional beliefs, perceptions and thinking can be effectively corrected by Cognitive Therapy techniques.
Coping, Helping & Supporting Someone Who is Depressed
For more things that do NOT work! click here
STEP 2: START doing What does Work! STEP 3: Model Lifestyle Change!
The Depression Carer Mindset
|If you live with, support, or work with a depressed person you need to understand
the self-sabotaging defeatist negativity of the...
Help with Depression for Carers & Sufferers: UK Courses Personal Stress/Depression Management Coaching
INDEX: Helping Someone who is Depressed
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