‘You Don’t Understand.’ Depression Advice for Friends of Sufferers

“You don’t understand” are the words often heard by the friends or relatives of a person suffering from depression symptoms. And often they’re right: depression is a complex mental illness that cannot truly be known except by those who experience it. Yet depression treatment cannot be undertaken alone, and there are ways that you, as a concerned friend or relative, can help your loved one tackle depression symptoms.
First Things First: Know About Depression Symptoms

Depression is an illness that has many facets. It helps to understand depression symptoms and specifically how they affect people’s relationships with others. It is important to keep in mind that people suffering from depression:

…have low self-esteem and lowered self-confidence, and in turn, can devalue or lose confidence in their relationships.
…strain relationships by self-centered behavior, being withdrawn, confused or irritable.
…feel incapable of lightening the burden they are placing on others.
…often don’t realize they need depression treatment, much less the effect their condition has on their loved ones.
…can become non-productive or unable to function in their career, impacting on the lives of others.
…may have lowered libido, which impacts a marriage.
…find it more difficult to think or concentrate, so normal functioning in a relationship is also affected.
…may resist their love one’s attempts to offer depression treatment.

Of course, not only the patient suffers from depression symptoms. Living with a depressed person can lead you to:
…blame yourself
…feel demoralized, overly criticized or not appreciated
…develop resentments because needs are not met
…desire to be free from a pessimistic or sad atmosphere in the home
…not have all the benefits that a relationship offers, because your loved one is unable to fulfill that role.
5 Things for You to Remember

1. Your feelings are normal: Depression symptoms affect the sufferer, but they affect you too.

2. You don’t have to be alone: Depression is a common illness, and there are many others who also have a depressed person in their lives. You may wish to join a support group and connect with others who understand your struggles and can give advice on depression treatment.

3. It’s not your fault: It’s common for family and friends of depressed people to feel guilty or wonder if they hold some responsibility for another person’s depression. Depression does not occur because of anything you say or do. It is a medical condition that needs adequate depression treatment, just as diabetes or heart disease need to be treated.

4. Don’t lose hope: Effective depression treatment exists! Psychotherapy and/or medication have been shown to be quite effective, as well as vitamins supplements for depression treatment. More than 80% of those who seek depression treatment feel better within several weeks.

5. Take good care of yourself: To help your depressed loved one, you need to stay healthy too! Set boundaries and limits on how much you can and will do, and stick to them. It is okay to take a vacation from caretaking once in a while. Schedule time for yourself and do things that bring you enjoyment and satisfaction. This is not neglecting your loved-one’s depression treatment, it is being healthy and compassionate towards yourself. In this way you will be better able, and a better friend.