People with depression often frustrate and alienate those around them. Not surprisingly, family members and friends often are unclear as to what they can do to help someone who is depressed. The following do's and don'ts may be helpful:
Do:Remind yourself that the depressed person is ill, and they are not responsible for actions or inactions that you or others find frustrating.
Do:Provide reassurance that depression is a treatable illness. Help the depressed person receive professional help and comply with prescribed treatments.
Do:Help the depressed person continue to eat and drink adequately, particularly if their appetite is decreased. If necessary, help the depressed person avoid alcohol.
Do:Spend time with someone who is depressed. Social support improves treatment outcome in many serious illnesses, including depression. Be a good listener. If a depressed person begins to talk about not wanting to live or expresses suicidal thoughts, take these statements seriously and insist that their doctor be informed.
Do:Recognize that caring for someone with depression is not easy. Learn more about the illness and the organizations that can help those living with a depressed person. Continue to make time for yourself and to pursue hobbies, family and social connections. If necessary, obtain professional counseling.
Don't:Feel you have to apologize to others for a depressed person's lack of interest or responsiveness to their social invitations. Do explain the presence of the depressive illness and its temporary negative impact on the person's social skills.
Don't: Feel guilty that a depressed person's illness is your fault.