People who don’t experience depression may not understand what it’s like to go through this condition. Whether it is situational or chronic major depressive disorder, depression is not a phase. It’s not something that will go away without treatment.
The most effective treatment for depression is to see a mental health professional such as a therapist. But, what if you’re not the one who’s depressed? If you have a friend or loved one who has depression, it can feel challenging to know how to support them.
One thing is certain, telling them that they just need to be happy doesn’t work. Here are reasons why depression is not a phase and what you can do to support your loved one who has it.
Depression is a legitimate health condition
Depression doesn’t just impact mental health; it affects a person’s overall wellness. Imagine if you told someone who had diabetics that their condition was “a phase.” That would be pretty insensitive and (most importantly) untrue. The same concept applies to depression. It’s a health condition that doesn’t just “go away.” When you’re depressed, you need to seek the help of a therapist and sometimes a psychiatrist.
Listen to how a person feels
People who are living with depression need to feel heard. Any human being wants to be validated and listen to you in their life. When you’re experiencing a depressive episode, that’s what you need more than anything. People who live with depression feel isolated. Sometimes, they feel like they cannot talk about their feelings. They’re worried that they’ll be “a Debbie downer.” So they tend to keep their emotions to themselves.
What you can do if you are a friend or loved one with someone who has depression is be there and listen to them. They need support, and you don’t have to fix their problems. Listening can help and validate their feelings. You may not know what to say, but one thing you can say is, “that sounds painful. I’m sorry you’re going through that. Just being there could help more than you know.
Direct a loved one towards getting help for depression
One of the best things you can do for a friend is to guide them toward resources to treat their depression. You can lead them toward mental health help. Whether that means seeing a therapist or going to a psychiatrist, getting help for depression is crucial. Depression can be a deadly condition if left untreated. That’s why getting help is so important.
You cannot make somebody see a therapist, but you can let them know that these resources are out there. Depression is that something that will just stop. It’s a health condition, and it needs treatment just like any other medical problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, hypothyroidism, or even cancer. Depression can and does kill people. So it’s important that you direct your friend towards help.
What are treatments for depression?
Each person responds to treatment for depression differently. Some people see cognitive behavior therapists and find that treatment helpful. Other individuals work with a provider who has a more psychodynamic approach.
Behavior therapy can help a person with their negative thought patterns. Whatever works for that person is what they should do. And nobody can tell you if you have the right treatment plan. It’s a matter of taking steps toward getting help for depression rather than sitting there and think it’s going to go away on its own.
This is a mistake that people who live with depression and their loved ones can make. You don’t have to be the one to solve all the issues. That’s why talking to an expert can help. Therapists are there to show you ways to cope with your depressive symptoms and find a solution to these negative thought patterns.
Light therapy for depression
Some people get depressive episodes during gray parts of the year or when they live in areas of the world where there’s not a lot of direct sun. Light therapy can help those individuals with symptoms of depression. You sit in front of a lightbox, which makes you feel as if you’re getting the therapeutic effects of the sun. You can read about how light therapy works here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/does-light-therapy-for-depression-work/.
Some people feel that their mood improves as a benefit from sitting in front of a lightbox. It’s because the box stimulates the person’s brain and increases serotonin production, which helps people feel less depressed. If you’re interested in learning more about light therapy, it’s worth talking to a mental health professional about it. It could help your depression and make you better able to function during the cold winter months.
Online or remote counseling is an excellent way to treat depression. You can sit with a counselor who understands what you’re going through and find ways to cope with your feelings. Depression will not go away in one day. It takes time to talk about and processes feelings. Whether you were going through a grieving process, which can take time, or you have a chemical imbalance that gives you depression.
These are issues that you can talk about with your therapist, and they will help you to find coping mechanisms. Seek help if you have depression, and remember that even though it’s not a phase, it doesn’t mean I can’t get better over time. You can heal and find ways to deal with the symptoms of depression, even if it is a chronic condition.