Step 2: Start doing what DOES work!
In my experience these things often help...
Being sensitive - noticing what effect your words and actions have on the person
We speak of this as "feeling your way" into being a constructive supporter - learning by experience what is helpful and what isn't.
Have integrity - Be natural - Be yourself!
Avoid taking on an "act", "image","false front" or "role" e.g. as "Caring person" or "Problem-solver", "Counsellor" or "Healer". Depressed people are often vulnerable to cruel exploitation, in which a caring, counselling or "Let me fix you" kind of act or behaviour is really put on as an image-booster (ego trip) for the person trying to be suppportive.
Have the courage to be genuine - if you don't feel caring, then for goodness sake don't put on a pretence of it!
False or self-centred support rarely works. It can even re-bound on the person who is playing "a part" instead of genuinely and spontaneously expressing their true feelings and nature. The acid test of sincerity and genuineness is that you are not hurt or angry or frustrated if the depressed person does not respond in the way that you want them to.
If you genuinely feel caring, and counselling or healing flows naturally, then by all means do it, but don't "beat yourself up" if you do not feel caring or sympathetic - being honest and genuine and in touch with your real self and your real feelings is helpful to both of you.
Look after your own needs and support and those of others in the situation
Being around someone who is depressed can be very "wearing" or "draining". You might also find yourself getting frustrated or angry. Don't judge yourself harshly about this - just get the relief, breaks and support that you need. Feelings that are ignored or "bottled up" are likely to make things worse and are deterimental to health and healing.
People who are markedly depressed often have very little to give to others. Being demanding or critical in this situation is likely to increase their depression (they already feel bad about being dysfunctional) and decrease how much they can give to you, to a job, or to others e.g. children etc.
Both of you may benefit from spending time:
- apart and alone
- separately with supportive friends and in revitalising activities
- together with supportive friends and in re-vitalising activities
- with a professional counsellor, therapist, healer, stress consultant or your GP
- in a formal or informal self-help and support group of fellow sufferers or carers
Lonely brooding thoughts can produce "spiralling down"
Encourage depressed feelings to be expressed or shared so that the "negative energy" flows out rather than being held in and distorting perceptions. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy [CBT] can help with these.
Intellectualised over-thinking, debating, arguing
Change the subject or activity when a depressed person is "massaging" (creating more ) depressed feelings by depressed intellectualised over-thinking. Consider ignoring this kind of conversation - do not try to correct it or you will just drive the person further into isolation.
Gentle physical activity or massage if possible can help body energy to move. Just allowing them to moan, sigh, move around in depressed posture can help to contact the feelings and get them moving. It is important also to enquire if suicide has been contemplated, and if so how they would do it. Contrary to popular opinion, talking about suicidal ideas and feelings does not increase the risk, it generally REDUCES THE RISK.
Disidentification from depression
Depressed people (sometimes encouraged by those around them) tend to label themselves as "depressed" or "depressive". The first step in moving out of depression is to see that depression is just a state of feeling and of mind - it is NOT who or what we are - it can change. Encouraging memory of happier times can help, especially if the depressed person can take the lead - prompting with a photo or other memorable object is the best way.
Another good way to disidentify is to imagine that her depression is a person - what kind of person would it be? - what gender, what age, what personality. This is an old Buddhist trick - to see the state of mind as an image helps separate it from oneself.
Peeling the onion of depression!
Depression is like an onion - layers form on top of layers. Before we can get them to know and share the roots of their depression, we must explore the outer layers of the onion - how they feel about being depressed and what judgements and blame (of self or others) they are indulging in. Usually there is a lot of feelings of failure and worthlessness just because of suffering depression.
Break vicious cycles
Break the vicious cycle of depressed feelings creating depressed thinking which generates more depressed feeling. Depressed people are often very much "in their head" - with negative thoughts that generate more depression. Breathing exercises are very helpful to interrupt "stuck" unwanted thinking and refresh the mind and body.
Re-connect the Depressed Friend or Family member with their "Inner Light[ness]"
Depressed mood and thoughts arise when we are in the experience of "Life is not Working". Re-connecting to our inner and outer resources is a key aspect of recovery. Finding creative and uplifting activities and companions can be very helpful. In cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder ["SAD" syndrome], reconnection to "inner light" [faith, spirituality, life-purpose, psycho-intuitive hand-reading or intuitive massage] can be very helpful for some people.
For more things that DO WORK! click here
Help with Depression for Carers & Sufferers: UK Courses Personal Stress/Depression Management Coaching
Coping, Helping & Supporting Someone Who is Depressed
The Depression Carer Mindset
STEP 1: STOP doing What does not work! STEP 3: Model Lifestyle Change!
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