Five ways to help someone through a depressive episode.

I deal with depression on a regular basis. I know exactly how difficult it can be to function like a ‘normal’ human being while in the middle of a depressive episode. I like to define an episode as a time when depression makes its way into my mind and spreads its darkness throughout me. Episodes don’t necessarily need triggers, but they most often start because of one. During the episode I become more dependent on those around me. This dependence is critical to my wellbeing.

After reflecting on my personal experiences, I’ve come up with five ways you can try, which may help you or someone else during a depressive episode:

 

1. Listen

You would be amazed how much you can learn about someone if you take the time to genuinely listen to what they have to say. People with depression may want to share with you their struggles, if they know you want to listen to them.

 

2. Ask questions

Sometimes speaking a lot can help too, for example asking simple questions like “Did you eat today or drink anything today?” or “Do you feel safe?” Depending on how those questions are answered, you can go from there into more specific ones, e.g. “What exactly did you eat today?”

 

3. Be there both physically and emotionally

Knowing that someone is choosing to be with me during the episode will always help me feel better. Physical contact, like hugging, is a good example of a physical way in which you can show support. Emotional support can be shown by saying things like “I’m here for you” and “I am not going to leave your side”. All these things may help reverse the effects of depression during the episode.

 

4. Show them you genuinely care

Actions can really speak louder than words, especially if they are genuine. It’s easy to show someone you care; for example, offer to take them out for lunch, check up on them by texting or calling to make sure they’re all right.

 

5. Participate in treatment

You may often think of a treatment as something that happens between doctors and the person dealing with depression. However, friends and family can play an important role during this time. For example, if your friend or family member is okay with it, you may like to accompany them to a medical appointment to better understand what they are experiencing. This could help make your loved one feel loved and appreciated, while they’re going through the depressive episode. This, in turn, can help with the treatment process.

 

There are so many other ways to help someone who is going through the depressive episode. There is not always going to be one solution that will help everyone. It may depend on the severity of the episode and/or the person themselves. It often takes more than just a little effort to help someone with depression to get back on their feet again. I know my family and friends sometimes feel tired and frustrated when they have tried a few different ideas to get me out of my episode. I know it’s not easy. But please don’t give up. Your dedication, your compassion and your patience may one day save someone’s life.

-Andrew F