Supporting Individuals with Depression: The Importance of Self-Care
Depression is a disorder that affects millions of people. While we all experience ups and downs, depression is different. Often accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, it affects day-to-day activities and impairs one’s ability to enjoy life.
There are several paths on the road to recovery from depression, including self-help groups, therapists, medications, or social support. Each person’s path to recovery is different and specific to his or her needs.
While some may believe that isolation is an easier way to deal with depression, it only makes it worse. Cultivating supportive relationships can play a big role in making depression more manageable. However, it is often difficult for individuals dealing with depression to reach out to others for support.
If an individual has reached out to you for support during his or her depressive episode, you may feel a great deal of responsibility. Supporting someone dealing with depression can be hard. It takes a lot of time and energy and if you are not careful to take care of yourself, it can be easy to cross the line of support and become engulfed in the depressed person’s problems. This can leave the supporter feeling, among other things, exhausted, frustrated, and angry.
Helping Someone with Depression
Below are a few points to consider when supporting someone dealing with depression.
1. You can’t fix it.
As supportive friends and family we often want to make things better. It is important to remember that depression is individualized; while some symptoms are alike, they affect each individual differently. Each individual has to find his or her own way to manage and eventually recover from his or her depression. Several treatment methods may have to be tried before a successful one is found. Your role to be patient and supportive. It is important to remember that recovery is not immediate — it is a process. Recovery ultimately is up to the individual.
2. Set boundaries.