Encouraging a loved one to seek help
Getting professional help from a GP is an important first step to recovery for most people. The GP will listen to what your loved one is experiencing and will talk them through the different treatment options, depending on the diagnosis. They might be prescribed antidepressants, they might be referred on for talking therapies and they might need to consider self help techniques. Most people with depression will get better with the right treatment and support and it might seem very straightforward if you’re well. With depression, it can feel like a much bigger challenge.
Why won’t my loved one get help?
If your loved seems reluctant to get professional help, ask them about any concerns they have. Depression usually comes with a sense of hopelessness, and in the depths of the illness the idea of trying to get better might seem overwhelming and pointless. It might feel like things will never change, and someone with very low self-esteem may even question whether they are worthy of help. Talking about depression can be very hard and some people worry about becoming upset or not being able to find the right words. Try to be patient and remember that your loved one isn’t trying to be awkward; it’s the symptoms of depression that are making small tasks and decisions much harder.
There are many reasons that can stand in the way of someone getting help.
- The stigma of depression can make it harder to speak out. However, 1 in 5 people will experience depression during their lifetime so it’s very common and can affect anyone.
- Some people worry about taking antidepressants*, but with mild depression they may not be necessary and other treatments are available. Antidepressants are not* addictive*.*
- Antidepressants can cause side-effects, but there are many different types of medication to choose from. Read about your options and talking through any concerns with a GP.
- Fears about appearing weak or making a fuss can stop people seeking help. In fact, it takes huge amounts of energy, strength and courage to manage the condition.
- Does your loved one recognise their depression? Spotting the symptoms can be especially hard if someone has been feeling the same way for along time.
- Some older people can find it hard to accept depression and to talk about it. Would your loved one feel more comfortable seeking help for loneliness or bereavement?
- Is your loved one worried about what will appear on their medical records? Ask the surgery for guidance if you’re not sure as all staff have a confidentiality code they must stick to.
If your loved one decides they still don’t want professional help despite all your best efforts, there are many ways to support them until they feel ready. If they are well enough to explore recovery and wellbeing there are lots of ideas you can try together, and gently encouraging them to connect with others to share experiences can help to avoid the loneliness and isolation of depression.
- "If you like, I can book an appointment and take you there"
- "We wouldn’t question going to the doctor for a physical problem. This is just as important"
- "You’re not making any effort - how am I supposed to help you if you won’t even try?"
- "It’s easy – why can’t you be logical and see sense?"
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.