Healthy Living

Helping a Loved One Cope with Depression

Help a Loved One Cope with Depression Better

Depression is a serious mood disorder that can really change the way people live their life. However, depression can be treated with the help and support of people who truly care about the welfare of a person who is depressed. Most people who frequently feel depressed need intervention and treatment to recover. Unfortunately, the biggest issue with clinical depression is that individuals who are depressed do not want to accept their medical condition, and secondly, they would be quite uncomfortable discussing their condition or receiving any aid in this regard. This situation makes it all the more difficult to initiate a treatment plan and give the help needed by the person to get better.

Is depression a medical disease?

We often use "depression" very loosely in an everyday context relating it to "sadness". However, there are other people who consider depression as a serious mental disease, which affects a person’s thinking ability and behavior. Thus, the big question is, what is depression?

Medically, depression is not really a disease, but a symptom of an underlying problem that could be physical or emotional. It is considered to be a mood disorder that pushes a person into a constant state of sadness and negativity. The good news is that depression is not the end of the tunnel and there certainly is hope for the patient to recover and snap out of the disease with constant medication, love, and care. 

Are there signs that tell depression?

The first step in helping a loved one deal with depression is to first know the symptoms. Here are a few signs to watch out for these signs can tell the story of depressed patients:

  • The mind is clouded with negative feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and distress.
  • Thinking becomes vague and body movements are slow or rather sluggish.
  • Anxiety and stress take over, even when doing regular or routine activities.
  • Loss of interest in pursuing activities that are relaxing and pleasurable, which include hobbies, sports, or sex.
  • Frequently mentioning about death and has suicidal tendencies.
  • Inability to think clearly or make a sound decision.

If you have a loved one having the symptoms of clinical depression, and you want to help promote depression treatments and recovery, what you need to first accept is that clinical depression is a mental condition that needs medical attention. Therefore, everything else you want to do for the person to support him or her will fall under the second line of treatment.

Apart from doing what the treating doctor suggests, here are a few ways on how caregivers can help a person who is dealing with depression:

  • Behavioral Changes - If you have noticed any significant change in their behavior, make them aware of it, and then slowly probe in the matter. This situation can be very tricky to deal with since a depression-led person may be unaware of what he or she is doing. When a depressed individual is inappropriately questioned, he or she will only get into a defensive mode.
  • Open Communication - Listening or encouraging the patient to open up and talk is the biggest support one can offer to those dealing with depression. In most cases, depression is driven by experiences, and some of these experiences may be very traumatic. If the patient is not comfortable remembering them, they should not be urged to dwell into those. However, if the patient is willing to share the experience, be there to listen without being judgmental.
  • Physical and Emotional Support - Convincing an individual with signs of depression to see a doctor can sometimes be difficult. Most people who are depressed are unable to appropriately comprehend the range of thoughts that are in their head. Because of the social stigma attached to illnesses like mental disorders and depression, people are uncomfortable with the thought of consulting a doctor. If your support helps, accompany your loved one to the doctor and assure him or her that you would be there giving all of your support throughout the treatment.
  • Be Informed - Sometimes, being informed and helping the patient acquire enough knowledge about the disease that bothers him or her could be the best help you can offer in coping with the disease. These days, there is already enough information about depression, especially readily available online credible sources or through books. When patients understand why they are behaving in a particular way or being aware of the changes in their body, the chances of accepting the illness are much higher, and so is the willingness to get treated.
  • Diet and Lifestyle Changes - The symptoms of depression can get worse due to fatigue and lack of sleep. As a caregiver, you must encourage the patient to try and rest enough. Exercise and good eating habits play important roles. Eating healthy food produces happy enzymes in the body, which send out happy signals to the brain, which are very important in cases of patients fighting depression. Hence, plan out a specific regimen that the patient will enjoy, and if possible, accompany them to help them stay motivated.
  • Notice the Early Signs of Addiction - Patients with symptoms of depression can easily sway to drugs, alcohol, and smoking habits to find solace and peace of mind. Slowly, these habits can turn into an addiction, and bringing them out of their addiction can get very difficult.
  • Avoiding Isolation - In depression, a person often becomes a recluse, who slowly moves towards isolation. Unfortunately, isolation is the biggest enemy of people with symptoms of depression as negative thoughts attack their mind when they are all alone. It is, therefore, important that you take the person out of isolation by engaging in activities that the person used to enjoy and encourage the person to meet his or her family and friends. A word of caution to remember here is that never force them to do any of these activities, as it may defeat the entire purpose.
  • Help Establish a Daily Routine - To help a person with depression symptoms, getting them back into their routine life is extremely important. Having a routine helps one set a rhythm to life and adds a sense of purpose to their otherwise meaningless life. Help them chalk out a plan so they have something to look forward to--a feeling that can keep negative thoughts and feelings at bay.

Using Natural Remedies to Combat Depression

While medication could help one feel all the more sickly and depressed, there are a number of natural remedies that you could try as a caregiver to make your loved one feel less like a patient. Sure, there is enough truth in the fact that natural remedies take their own course of time, but they are certainly worth the effort because they are devoid of any side effects. Here are some tried and tested natural remedies that have been used by people over the years to combat depression:

  • Happy Foods: Diet and nutrition play very important roles when getting treated for any disease. Foods such as fish oil, coconut oil, eggs, and flaxseed oil are highly enriched with nutrients and are considered as happy foods.
  • Green Tea: Not only is green tea an excellent detoxifying drink, it is also rich in a compound called L-theanine. This compound helps in boosting a person's mood and is filled with properties that can help in reducing stress.
  • Chamomile Tea: This tea is one of the best tried and tested drink to combat depression. Chamomile has a particular flavonoid that is known to relax the brain, which has the same effect at bedtime that can facilitate a peaceful night’s sleep.