Depression is one of those illnesses where the person going through it might not be able to describe it but that doesn't mean that they're not suffering.
Since it isn't on the surface, helping someone out with it can be difficult. Especially because you can't just give them a tablet, an ointment or a balm to make them look forward to life again.
However, if someone has told you about it or even if you fear that a loved one is being troubled with it, it's important to help them stand tall in the face of it. Depression can be an extremely tough battle. The person may feel low, hollow and on some days, nothing at all. But what makes it slightly better is knowing that there is someone they can reach out to.
Start by realizing that depression isn't a choice, hence, getting out of it isn't one either.
You have no idea how much the person going through depression wants to 'Snap out of it'. But it doesn't change the fact that depression doesn't leave when you want it to. You may want to avoid telling the person to 'Get out of it' or 'Forget about it for some time'. Instead, try to be gentle with your words and tell them you believe in them and that they're a fighter.
Make sure you ask them the right questions.
Ask them if you can be of any help or if they'd like to talk about how they're feeling. At times all that a person needs is someone who could lend them an ear. We all want to be heard, don't we? It makes us feel better and lets us know that someone actually cares about how we feel.
However, if they don't want to talk about it, don't push it. You can just sit right next to them in silence.
At times, they don't want to let out their feelings. That is also absolutely all right. However, try to sit next to them and accompany them in silence. You don't always need your words to tell someone you're there, at times your presence is more than enough.
There are some things you should absolutely avoid saying.
If you don't know what to say, it is all right but there are some things you should avoid saying because words are extremely powerful. If used inappropriately, they can push a person into a shell. "Ab kyu dukhi hai?," "Stop cancelling plans because you're sad," or, "It'll get fine if you try to distract yourself" won't help.
You may not realize it but these statements come across as extremely mean and will only make your loved one feel worse.
If they push you away to create distance, give them time.
Emotions are a tricky thing when it comes to depression. A person going through it may not want to talk, take calls, reply to messages or hang out. Avoid pressurizing them to do these things if they want distance. The only thing you can do is check on them and let them know you're there. Give them time before they want to bridge that gap.
Avoid using tough love.
When you see a loved one suffering, you want to give them tough love so they make more effort to get out of their situation. However, depression can leave a person extremely exhausted and unable to make any effort. In such a situation, try not to give them tough love by telling them you will stop talking to them if they don't try to make it better for themselves. Your words affect them deeply and giving such ultimatums will only make them feel more dejected.
Don't hesitate to ask them about negative feelings.
It is completely all right to ask your loved ones about their negative feelings and how it affects them. Don't be scared to ask them if they have any suicidal thoughts. It is very important that you know where they are in terms of their emotions and if you can help them overcome negative thoughts.
Don't feel bad if they cancel on you consistently.
Depression can make a person feel exhausted even if they've got enough sleep. On certain days, it feels like a victory to even get out of bed for a bath. Hence, if your loved one has been cancelling on movie plans, Friday night dates or evening walks, don't feel too upset. Try to understand them and give them time.
Help them find proper medical care.
Finding professional help when you're going through depression can be tough. The biggest contributing factor to this problem is the stigma attached to it. We avoid going to doctors for mental help because we're scared of what people will say. However, you need to give them enough strength to get professional help. You can also do some research and give them helpline numbers or online support systems where they can contact a professional. Suggest that they log on to sites like www.yourdost.com where a professional will hear them out and give proper advice.