“It’s all in your head.” “Look on the bright side.” “You have so much to live for, why do you want to die?” “People have it so much worse than you.” These are things that people who struggle with depression never want to hear. It doesn’t help their situation, and it creates bitterness towards someone who may just be trying to help.
The National Alliance on Mental Health said an estimated 16 million American adults had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. That’s almost seven percent of the population.
There are many options available for someone who is struggling with depression both on and off campus, but when you aren’t the one struggling or it’s someone you care about, it’s hard to know how to help.
Someone who wants to help another with depression should learn the symptoms of depression, encourage treatment, identify warning signs of worsening depression and provide support, according to an article by Mayo Clinic article titled “Depression: Supporting a family member or friend.”
Depression isn’t just feeling sad. It’s a scary emptiness or a quick temper that affects everyday life. Noticing when people aren’t acting like themselves is the first step to helping them. Talk to the person with an open mind and let them know that what they are feeling is an illness, not a personal flaw or weakness. Listen instead of providing solutions and advice. Make plans together and encourage participation in low stress activities.
Depression makes you feel like you are alone in the world. If you know people who may be experiencing depression, let them know that you are there and willing to help. But what happens when the person you want to help doesn’t want your help?
I found an article on Psych Central that outlines psychiatrist Dr. Mark S. Komrad’s book, “You Need Help! A Step-by-Step Plan to Convince a Loved One to Get Counseling.” He offers tips like letting your loved one know you want to have an important conversation and picking a good time and place.
Let the person know that you are worried and want to help them. Komrad said to be prepared for the person to be upset, and try not to get defensive. Set up an appointment for your loved one, and if they refuse to go, go to the appointment yourself and talk about your loved one.
One main problem with the stigma surrounding mental health is that no one wants to talk about it. Dealing with depression and other issues may make someone feel weak.
Stop the stigma. Talk to your loved ones about mental health, even if no one you know is struggling with a mental health disorder. Keep up mental health by talking to others and finding outlets that keep stress levels down.