Living with a Depressed Loved one

Posted by Leanne Wagner on May 30, 2011  >  No Comments

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – IV-TR, approximately 10-25% of women and 5-12% of men have a lifetime risk of major depressive disorder. Because of this high prevalence rate, there is an endless array of articles, books, blogs and pamphlets devoted to helping those diagnosed and living with depression.  But what about those living with those who have depression?  It is always difficult to watch a loved one suffer, and often our first instinct is to help them, cheer them up or get them to “snap out of it.” However these efforts often leave us feeling frustrated, angry or exhausted. It is extremely important to remember your own self care and well being. Ultimately the depression your loved one suffers from is out of your control, but you will be better equipped to provide the support your loved one needs if you follow a few simple guidelines. 

  1.  Talk to someone. Whether it is a close friend, relative or mental health professional, you need a support system and an outlet to express your thoughts, concerns and feelings just as much as your loved one does.
  2. Educate yourself.  Learning about the signs, symptoms and features will help you understand what your loved one is experiencing and what you can do to meet their needs.
  3. You are not responsible. The fluctuation, intensity and duration of their depressive symptoms are characteristic of the mental illness.  Although you can offer your love, support and guidance, remember you alone cannot cure it.
  4. Take care of yourself. Engage in stress-relieving activities such as yoga or other forms of exercise, art, music, gardening or social events. It is important to remember that meeting your own mental, spiritual and physical health needs will in turn help you meet the needs of your loved one. 

Lastly, talk to your loved one. Keeping the lines of communication open is important in any relationship or friendship, and this is especially so when mental illness is involved.

Leave a comment

Blog Categories

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
- Winston Churchill