Helping Depressed Loved Ones

Depression In a Loved One: Do’s and Don’ts

Depression can be devastating for those who experience it but also to their significant others. It is often hard to decide how we can be truly helpful to our loved ones who are suffering with depression. Below are some suggestions from experience. While not taking the place of professional advice, the suggestions are worth attending to.

Do:
· Listen to and encourage discussion of feelings (Open ended questions)
· Initiate social contact/activity – invite without pressure
· Choose which role you can successfully maintain in their lives (loving spouse, supportive ear, advisor, spiritual guide, other)
· Suggest a walk and talk vs. sitting at home or in a coffee shop
· Include others/professionals?
Managing suicidal threats: consider zero tolerance (prove to me you’re safe or I need to get someone involved with more experience)
Managing acute crisis: Call 911 or direct/take to the Emergency Department
· OK to ask if having death thoughts (Won’t be putting thought in their head)
· Take good care of yourself (Good counsel from airline safety instructions for oxygen, “If you are traveling with someone you are assisting, first secure your mask then….”

Don’t:
· Judge them (emotionally or spiritually weak, just seeking sympathy, etc.)
· Argue with them
· Discount report of depression because they don’t seem depressed (Not all cry)
· Be too free with advice (“When I get down I just…” can be an insulting turn-off)
· Talk them out of depression (leads person to feel not understood & lonely)
· Take responsibility for them (enabling)
· Rely on your own suicide assessment of dangerousness
· Keep suicide secrets – Get help