At some time in our lives either we or our loved ones experience depression. The depression could range from very mild to severe. It could last for a short while or last very long. Some of us can tackle depression on our own or with a little help from friends and family. While others may require specialized help and support.
Whenever we see our loved ones in trouble it’s our natural instinct to jump in and get help. So here are some of the things you could do to help.
(Try to provide them the help you can. If you find they need more help then motivate them to see a mental health expert.)
Give them your time: When you find your friend alone battling his depression don’t leave him alone. Spend time with them. You may be very busy at that point of time, surrounded by many hard pressing issues. Just keep that aside and spend some time with your friend who needs you more than anything. Your company is the greatest gift you can ever give him.
A person battling depression needs some one to talk to, so listen to them. Listening to them is a great release of the pent up negative energy. The need to be in someone’s company and talk about the problems that are driving them deep into depression is very real. When ignored it drives them to take extreme steps. Listening to them is providing them a turn around opportunity.
Listening to someone is not easy. For most of us even during a normal regular conversation we listen with the intent to reply. That’s the challenge here. We got to be listening with the intention to understand and not to reply. Always keeping in mind that the person in depression has a strong need to feel understood.
When you want to truly understand and let the other person feel understood. The way to do that is through empathic listening. Always remember to empathize with them, respect their feelings even if you disagree with them. Do not ridicule or belittle their feelings and emotions.
The way to make them feel really good is to Validate their feelings and not dismiss their feelings. When we dismiss their feelings it adds salt to their injuries. Let them know that it’s ok and justified to feel the way they feel. A depressed person is already very low and at such a time to let them know that they are wrong can be very hurtful and unbearable. So refrain from dismissing their feelings but remember to validate their feelings.
When talking to a person with depression avoid pep talk at the start of the conversation. It can become a big block to all your further well intentioned communication. Pep talk is a total invalidation of their feelings. It’s a message that they are wrong to harbor such feelings. They will block you out at that very moment. Such pep talks can have a totally opposite effect. I am not saying to totally avoid pep talk . After they feel fully understood and they have vented out their feelings then it’s ok to venture into pep talk. So pep talk comes in the last part of the conversation.
One of the commonest and irresistible things that people do is giving examples from their own lives and others on how they tackled and overcome similar situations. This makes them feel incapable and stupid that they couldn’t figure it out by themselves and solve it. This makes them angry and even more depressed.
When you have got them talking it’s very important to let them talk. Don’t interrupt them even if you feel they are going around in circles or are speaking irrelevant things. As they speak they will release the pent up steam. Just let the steam come out. They will talk about several unrelated events and incidents. Let them talk. Remembering that it’s a part of the venting process will give you the strength to endure the excessive talk. A lot of garbage will come out along with the real issues. Your job is to just listen and provide empathy.
When they are speaking a lot of stuff it takes time. Don’t get restless or impatient. Keep an empathic attitude towards whatever they are venting. Getting restless as the conversation seems stretched is normal for you but it’s very hurtful to the depressed friend who is opening up.
Sometimes they are not willing to speak up or open up or come to the main point. They just keep moving in circles and keep avoiding talking about the main issue. Understand it’s difficult for them to get there and address to those issues. It’s just too painful to get there. Great amounts of support and compassion can get them talking about those issues. They can stretch the conversation as the emotions slowly and gradually release. It can be very time consuming. Be patient. Give them the opportunity to release.
Let them know that you are not judging them and It’s ok to feel depressed. It’s not that they are deficient in anyway. It’s perfectly fine for them to feel whatever they are experiencing . It’s ok to be vulnerable and hurt. You don’t have to be a solid rock that can face all challenges. It’s human to be vulnerable. When you get hurt its painful. There is nothing to be ashamed about that. It’s a perfectly normal thing.
When we try or attempt anything in our life, we will either succeed or fail. Success and failure are the two outcomes of any endeavor hence failing is just one of the two outcomes. It’s very normal to fail. People make a big fuss about failing asif the only acceptable outcome of any effort is success. These thoughts are a flaw to the normal functioning of life. Failing is not a crime or a punishment but is just an outcome of effort.
When ever we feel pain the normal reaction is to cry. Conditioning of society has made many feel that they are weak if they cry. It’s a sign of being inadequate. This is a wrong understanding of how the mind and emotions work. Normal reaction to painful problems is to cry. It’s perfectly normal to cry. Crying is a big release to the pent up high intensity emotional flux. It’s a way of finding balance and healing. It’s a process of release. Crying has many benefits and is not a sign of weakness.
We all have plans and ideas about how our lives should be. Most of the time it never goes the way we want it to go. Life has it’s own way. It goes and flows contrary to our wishes and expectations. It’s very distressing when things don’t go our way. Accepting the fact that life is just the way it is. It flows in ways beyond our understanding. Accepting life the way it flows is wisdom.
While you listen to them remember to let them do the talking and thinking. Let them figure out the solution. As they speak your role is to listen with empathy and be non judgemental. Don’t be in a hurry to come to a solution or conclusion. Let the venting and solutions emerge from the cleaning process. Be calm and extremely patient.
Know very well that these methods can work as an aid and assist you to help your friend combating depression. It will help you on many occasions but there will be times you won’t be able to help. At such times it’s very important that you seek professional help for your friend. Since you have helped them before, you will be able to influence them to accept help from professionals. Ensure that they follow through the process of psychotherapy diligently.
Homeopathy combined with counseling has proven time and again to be extremely effective in treating depression.
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