While many of us are familiar with the term depression, most individuals do not fully understand the severity of the disorder. When you hear that a peer is struggling with depression, you may want to help but don't know where to begin. To best support them, it is important to understand what depression is and how it affects their daily life.
Depression can come in many different forms and affect each individual differently. Major depressive disorder (MDD) is when feelings of depression last over time and affect your daily lifestyle. While many people feel depressed at times, being diagnosed with MDD is much more severe. Understanding the following criteria for MDD can help you to determine if a peer or loved one may be struggling with depression.
There are many behaviors to avoid when supporting someone through depression. By avoiding these simple things and providing them with the support and encouragement they need, you can help a loved one through their condition. Most cases of depression require the help of a mental health professional to overcome.
When an individual finds that a peer of theirs is struggling with depression, a natural reaction is often to relate to their feelings. You may feel inclined to share your story of moments you were depressed and try to help them not feel alone. This may be impactful to disclose if you have previously struggled with diagnosed depression. However, giving in advice or comparing feelings of sadness to MDD can cause the individual to feel misunderstood or trivialized.
If you have not experienced severe levels of depression and struggle to relate to individuals in this state, try stepping back and being there for support. Offer to be their support system if they ever need anyone. Allowing them to feel comfortable reaching out to you can help them to avoid feeling alone on this journey. This allows them to feel supported without you pushing advice their way, which may lead to further stressors.
One important reminder when communicating with a peer struggling with depression is not to take their problems into your own hands. If they open up to you about issues they are working to overcome, do not develop the mindset that you are supposed to solve their problem. They often are not looking for you to offer solutions. Rather, they probably just need to let their emotions out to someone they trust.
Offering support in finding a mental health service or putting together a plan will often go a lot farther than trying to solve their issue at the moment. Suggesting they find professional help or offering to help in that process can be much more beneficial. If they shut down the idea of professional help, ask what changes could be made to help them best.
A common issue individuals tend to fall into is giving up on their peers with depression. For someone without depression, the symptoms may seem to be easily adjustable. When your peer is stuck in a state of depression, it can be easy to lose hope in them. They are pushing not to give up on themselves. Feeding into that idea of giving up may only push them further into their depressive state.
Watching people give up on them is the last thing they need during this time. As they seek professional help and work toward overcoming depression, stand by their side and continue to encourage their success. Remind them that this disorder is only temporary and will get better. It can feel never-ending at times, and this simple reminder can go a long way.
Individuals with MDD tend to self-isolate, digging themselves into a deeper depressive hole. It can be tempting to avoid inviting this individual to certain activities for fear that they may set a negative tone. While this fear may be valid in some situations, inviting them to social events or outside activities can be extremely beneficial in helping them overcome depression.
Finding joy in the little things can go a long way, especially for someone with depression. Encouraging them to get outside and participate in something new can help get them out of this phase and enjoy their time again. While individuals with depression may create various excuses not to go out and engage in social activities, friendly encouragement can remind them of the positive effects it can bring.
Major depressive disorder can be hard to relate to if you have not personally experienced its severe symptoms. As much as you may wish to help a peer struggling with depression, it can be hard to determine the most helpful actions. Reviewing some simple behaviors to avoid and understanding a healthy way to react can help you feel more comfortable when dealing with your peer and increase their comfort and trust levels with you. Awareness of the main signs of depression and simple actions to avoid it can help you recognize potential depression in others and support individuals struggling with this disorder. Support and encouragement are some of the best things you can give a depressed individual. Letting them know they do not have to go through this alone can be greatly impactful. To learn more, contact California Care Detox & Treatment at (949) 281-0632.