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How To Support Someone With Depression And Anxiety

Recognizing Depression In Others

How to Help Someone with Depression and Anxiety

Signs of depression should never be ignored. Know what to watch for so youre prepared to help someone if they need it.

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Be Alert To Signs That Treatment Is Not Working

On the other hand, the absence of any such signs most likely means that ones depression is not improving and may be getting worse, Halaris notes, adding that a major concern in the absence of improvement is whether your loved one is having suicidal thoughts.

This is where you need to very gently raise the question whether they are having even fleeting thoughts of their life not being worth living, Halaris says.

According to Mayo Clinic, signs your loved one may be considering suicide include:

  • Making statements such as I wish I were dead or I wish I hadnt been born
  • Purchasing a gun or hoarding pills
  • Fixating on violence, death, or dying
  • Withdrawing from social contact with others
  • Feeling hopeless or trapped in their current situation
  • Telling people, goodbye, as if theyre going to disappear
  • Getting their affairs in order or giving away their belongings with no other plausible explanation for doing so

If your loved one shows signs of considering or planning to take their own life, Halaris and Riba recommend taking steps to reduce their risk of attempting or completing suicide, such as:

RELATED: How to Cope With Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety Causes You To Behave Selfishly

Because anxiety is an overactive fear response, someone experiencing it may at times focus too much on his or her own concerns or problems.

Your worries and fears may be putting unnecessary pressure on your relationship. You may feel like you need to worry in order to protect yourself in your relationship, but it might be keeping you from being compassionate and vulnerable with your partner.

If your partner experiences anxiety, you may build up resentment and react in selfish ways as well. The attitudes and perspectives that we have are contagious. Keeping your stress levels under control is especially hard when your partner is feeling anxious, upset, or defensive.

so attendto your needs, not your fears. When you notice yourself becoming fearful or defensive, take a moment to consider the compassion that you have for yourself and your partner. Clearly ask for the support you need to feel loved and understood. Apologize for letting anxiety make you self-absorbed.

Unhealthy levels of anxiety make you feel as though an emotional rock is in your stomach almost all the time.

Also Check: How Do You Overcome Social Anxiety

Learn As Much As You Can About Mental Health

Part of your process of working to help a friend with depression or anxiety should involve a commitment to learning about their struggles. So, if youve never had these types of problems before, read all about them. Don’t just research the symptoms covered above, but also natural remedies for anxiety, common anxiety triggers, medical treatments, therapeutic approaches, and so on.

Once you deepen your understanding in this way, youll be much more likely to know what your loved one needs and to be able to offer it to them.

Learning about mental health can also stop you from making lots of mistaken assumptions that can inadvertently cause harm.

For example, you might just assume that if you see your friend looking happy and vibrant, this means their depression is in the past. However, if youve researched depression, youll know that one good day doesnt indicate a cure, and assuming it does can set the person back.

What Can I Do To Help Today

PPT

Depression often causes fatigue, trouble sleeping, and a lack of motivation. Sometimes just getting out of bed can be hard.

Asking what you can do can really help them through their day.

Maybe theyre not eating well and you can pick up dinner. Maybe they need a morning call or text to ensure they get to work on time.

Sometimes you just need to listen. Helping doesnt have to be a huge, drastic effort. It can be as simple as picking up a phone, sharing a meal, or driving them to an appointment.

what Not to say

Just remember: Advice isnt the same as asking for help. If they ask for your advice, give it if you so choose. But dont offer them helpful solutions or statements that seem like a cure for their depression. This can feel judgmental or not empathetic.

DONT say:

  • Just think happy thoughts. I dont understand what you have to be so sad about.
  • Everything will be OK, I promise.
  • I cut out sugar and I was cured! You should try it.
  • You just need to snap out of this.
  • So many people out there are worse off than you.

Read Also: What Can I Do For Anxiety

Develop An Action Plan For Anxiety And Depression

Your action plan for anxiety and depression will cover a wide range of options. The plan can include exercise, stress management and how to improve your sleep. You may be referred to a psychologist who can help you address things like negative thinking and how to manage difficulties in your relationships.

Some people think its weak to admit theyre going through a tough time, but if you have anxiety or depression, you cant just snap out of it or pull yourself together. Theres more to it than that.

If you think you may have anxiety or depression, and want to take action, start by talking to someone you trust keeping it to yourself can make things worse. Discuss your situation with a friend, partner, family member a colleague or your GP.

Beyond Blue has put together information about how men can create an action plan.

How To Help Someone With Anxiety

All of us worry and get scared from time to time. But those with anxiety may feel consumed by fears of things that might seem irrational to others. It can be hard to relate to these concerns, and as a result, many people dont know how to best help someone with anxiety. People are often dismissive of people experiencing anxiety, says Joseph McGuire, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine. With other medical illnesses, you may be able to see physical symptoms. But with anxiety, you dont necessarily see what the person is dealing with. So its important to be sensitive to what the person with anxiety is going through, even if it doesnt make sense to you. Its distressing to watch a loved one experience panic attacks and face anxiety every day, but there are things you can do to help. It starts with recognizing the signs of excessive worry and understanding the best ways to support your loved one.

Also Check: What Can I Do To Help My Partner With Anxiety

Take Care Of Yourself

It can be pretty scary and intense to see someone you care about experiencing depression or anxiety. You can be there for your friend, but its equally important to do things that keep you well. By taking care of yourself, youll be in a better place mentally and physically, and this allows you to better support the people around you.

Remember to do the following to make sure your own wellbeing is looked after:

  • Monitor your mood. You might be really worried about your friend, but it’s important that you also monitor your own mood and stress levels. This could include rating your mood out of ten each day, to track how you’re doing.
  • Don’t give up the things you enjoy. Always make sure you’ve got the time to do your favourite things.
  • Make time to relax. Relaxation is great for helping you to unwind and deal with stress.
  • Set boundaries. You arent going to be able to be there for your friend all of the time. Set some limits around what youre willing, and not willing, to do. For example, you might decide not to take any phone calls in the middle of the night, or not to miss social events just because your friend isnt up to going.
  • Ask for support. Its important that youre getting your own emotional support. Talk to people you trust about how youre feeling.

Depression Can Make People Withdraw

How to Help Someone With Depression or Anxiety

It may feel like the depressed friend is pulling away from the friendship. But this is usually a symptom of the depression itself. In his 2017 Ted Talk, comedian, and storyteller Bill Bernat spoke about his own clinical depression and said, Depression doesnt diminish a persons desire to connect with other people, just their ability.1

A person who is depressed may feel unworthy of friendship. Dr. Saltz says, They may say, no one would want to be with me or I have no energy to engage in conversation but that is the chemical depression talking.

Depression may cause a person to push away the friends that are trying to be supportive. Again, this is most likely the depression talking and not the friends actual feelings. Caroline Leaf, a clinical psychologist explains, People can be difficult when they are depressed, but we should not take this personally, which often happens when one friend is depressed and tends to lash out at the other friend. This person may not be aware that what they are doing is wrong, or what is going on inside them, or they may not even care, she says. Or they may even be asking for help, but in a really roundabout and confusing way.

Recommended Reading: What Can I Do To Help My Anxiety

I Refuse To Let My Wifes Depression Ruin Our Marriage

Anyone whoâs ever been married knows that making a relationship last is hard.

When two people marry, they try to build a life together that often involves differences of opinion on living habits, money trouble, kids, and so on. Even something as simple as sharing a toothpaste tube can make a relationship difficult.

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Actions For This Page

  • Anxiety and depression in men are common, and effective, evidence-based treatments are available.
  • Anxiety and depression are mental health conditions, not weaknesses.
  • Taking action may seem difficult but help and support is readily available.
  • Its important to seek support for anxiety and depression early the sooner the better.
  • With the right treatment, most people recover from anxiety and depression.

Recommended Reading: How Do I Know If I Had An Anxiety Attack

Support Your Loved One In Their Day

While starting treatment is a crucial component to managing depression, your loved one may still need help with their daily functioning. One good way to help may be offering to go to a therapy appointment with them to hear directly from their mental healthcare provider, says Michelle Riba, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry and associate director of the Comprehensive Depression Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

You can also offer to help them with tasks that may feel overwhelming, like grocery shopping, laundry, or cleaning the house, or simply suggest you take a quick walk around the block together to get them out and about, Dr. Riba says.

Establishing a routine is also very helpful, says Thames. You might try to make that walk happen every day, for example. Regular physical activity can help ease stress and release endorphins and other neurotransmitters, or chemicals in the brain, that play a role in boosting mood, Thames says.

One form of treatment for depression is behavioral activation, which involves engaging in activities one find meaningful, such as doing an enjoyable form of exercise or volunteering, according to the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Encouraging your loved one to do activities that give them personal satisfaction is important but dont go overboard with activities and socializing, Thames cautions.

RELATED: A High-Fiber Diet May Help Lower Depression Risk

Remember To Take Care Of Yourself

Depression Awareness Week â infographic

In your attempts to support someone with anxiety or depression, you have to take care of yourself. You cannot provide them with the help they need if you are not paying attention to your own health, which can easily happen if you are giving too much of yourself.

Although it is important to avoid being selfish or making their issues about you, it is similarly important to make sure you do things for your own benefit instead of just for theirs. You cannot anticipate someones needs or shield them from potential stressors. They need to be able to rely on you and be comfortable opening up to you, which they cannot do if you are mentally or physically exhausted.

The best way you can help somebody in this situation is simply by being there when they need you, as a strong and consistent friend, partner, or relative.

For more information about this topic, please visit:

  • Mental Health America offers resources for family and friends of someone with a mental illness:
  • The GeneSight.com blog aims to educate and inform about issues relating to depression and anxiety:

Our articles are for informational purposes only and are reviewed by our Medical Information team, which includes PharmDs, MDs, and PhDs. Do not make any changes to your current medications or dosing without consulting your healthcare provider.

Read Also: How To Overcome Overwhelming Anxiety

Tip : Deal With Volatility And Anger

PTSD can lead to difficulties managing emotions and impulses. In your loved one, this may manifest as extreme irritability, moodiness, or explosions of rage.

People suffering from PTSD live in a constant state of physical and emotional stress. Since they usually have trouble sleeping, it means theyre constantly exhausted, on edge, and physically strung outincreasing the likelihood that theyll overreact to day-to-day stressors.

For many people with PTSD, anger can also be a cover for other feelings such as grief, helplessness, or guilt. Anger makes them feel powerful, instead of weak and vulnerable. Others try to suppress their anger until it erupts when you least expect it.

Watch for signs that your loved one is angry, such as clenching jaw or fists, talking louder, or getting agitated. Take steps to defuse the situation as soon as you see the initial warning signs.

Try to remain calm. During an emotional outburst, try your best to stay calm. This will communicate to your loved one that you are safe, and prevent the situation from escalating.

Give the person space. Avoid crowding or grabbing the person. This can make a traumatized person feel threatened.

Ask how you can help. For example: What can I do to help you right now? You can also suggest a time out or change of scenery.

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