Day to day support
Supporting a loved one with depression
Being close to someone who’s unwell with depression can be valuable and rewarding, but also very difficult. At times you might feel confused, frustrated, self-conscious, helpless and even fearful for the future. You might be working hard to do everything you can to be supportive, or you might feel you’ve tried everything in vain and don’t know what to do or say next. Your loved one is still the same person underneath the symptoms of depression and they’ll appreciate genuine friendship and support, even if they’re not always able to show it.
You don’t have to be an expert on depression to help someone who’s going through it. Try thinking about the symptoms of depression and how they might be making your loved one feel.
Keep in touch
Simply being there for someone with depression is one of the most valuable things you can do. The loneliness and isolation of the illness can be devastating, so let your loved one know you’re there for them, even if it doesn’t feel like you’re actively doing anything. Spend time with them if you can, but sendinga text or a card to let them know you care can also make a difference. Try not to take it personally if you find your plans are cancelled at the last minute or if your loved one feels too unwell to see you. Living with depression can be exhausting and painful and things can go up and down.
“I’m thinking about you, I can come round to yours next week if you feel up to it”
If you ask your loved one how they’re feeling, be prepared to listen. Without judgement. You may know other people with depression, you might have ideas on how to help and you might feel you know what’s best for them, but take the time just to listen. Try to understand what they’re experiencing as an individual, rather than jumping in to rescue them. Having the space to talk, to be understood, and just to be, can be invaluable. If your loved one doesn’t feel up to talking yet, try to be patient. Would they prefer to talk to someone with similar experiences? Let them know you’re there for them whenever they’re ready and concentrate on other things you can do to help.
“How are you? Do you feel up to talking?”
Recognise their achievements
Depression can make even simple activities feel overwhelming. If your loved one is in the depths of depression try to notice and remind them of their achievements, no matter how small they might seem. Did they make it out of the house today? Did they talk to a friend, cook a meal or manage a day at work? Think about the energy and strength it may have taken, and talk to them about it. What qualities do you value in them? Does your loved one recognise their own skills and talents? Depression can make us feel worthless,and in the depths of the illness it can be easy to forget who we are and what we used to enjoy.
“You’re doing really well. I’ve no idea how you do it, but you’ve always been brilliant at that”
Keeping up with day-to-day chores can feel too exhausting and overwhelming to manage. Think about things that might lighten the load for your loved one. Are they struggling with housework or gardening, do you they need a lift or are they too tired to pick up the phone and make calls? Are they keeping on top of bills and household mail? Are they comfortable with your help or do they prefer to be very independent? Would they like you to do something for them or would they prefer to do it together? Little things can make a difference and will help to show your loved one that you care.
“I’m picking up some shopping later, I can get a few things for you if you’d like”
Support with treatment and recovery
Visiting a GP is just the start on the road to recovery.Consider how overwhelming it might feel to be faced with lots of new information on medications, appointments, specialists and treatments, when you’re not well. Can you help your loved one to keep track of appointments and do they need a lift? Do they need a hand filling in forms or can you help them to search for local groups and support networks and self help techniques? Have you considered your own mental health and could you explore the Five ways to wellbeing together?
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Being close to someone who’s unwell can be hard, so look after your wellbeing, chat with others in the same position and don’t go through it alone. All Depression Alliance services welcome those affected by depression through a loved one, and the charity Carers UK can also provide expert advice,information and support.