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9 tips on how to help depressed people
I am a depressed person. I think that entitles me to tell you how you can help other depressed people. First and foremost, it is important to understand that, of course, not everyone who is depressed is the same. What helps me can be terrible for another person and vice versa. Nevertheless, I would like to try to show you some options for action that will make it easier for you to deal with your depressed relatives, friends or partners.
Dealing with depressed people can be a real challenge. Especially in relationships you often feel helpless, you want to help somehow and be there for the person concerned, but of course you are still afraid of making things worse with wrong behavior. Often a wrong gesture or even the wrong accentuation of a word is enough to trigger depressed people. It goes without saying that this can quickly become overwhelming for everyone involved. In addition, it is not exactly helpful that depressed people often feel guilty about their depression and therefore rarely admit whether and what kind of help they need. Don't let this discourage you, keep offering activities or your help. The following nine tips are intended to be a kind of guide, but of course do not offer a panacea for depression.
You can only be there for other people when you are doing well, otherwise you will quickly get lost in a vortex of depression and just drag each other down. Give yourself breaks and time for yourself, set your limits and make sure that they are not exceeded. Sure, you want to help 24/7, but that is not possible, because even the greatest energy reserves are used up at some point. So give yourself time to recharge your batteries and communicate clearly if you don't want something. People who are depressed are often not as good at handling rejection as it reinforces their belief that they are worth nothing. So make sure to communicate in good time and carefully when you need time for yourself and not explode at the last moment or just disappear. The situation is really nerve-wracking for everyone involved and it is quite normal that you need time for yourself every now and then. Communication is the key to success here, because if you talk openly and honestly about what you can and cannot do and where your limits are, a major source of conflict has already been removed from the world.
2. Listen without judging
Maybe depressed people want to talk about their problems, maybe they don't. Sometimes it suddenly gushes out of them when you're watching a movie or out shopping, and it can also be the case that you have to listen to the same story 15 times. But please don't judge, listen and support. Pay attention to your choice of words, because well-intentioned advice on how have a laugh, it's all half as wild, don't act like that or I cant hear it anymore are anything but helpful. Depressed people often feel like they are a nuisance to everyone and these comments play right in there. Advice may make sense at the moment, but it is seldom really feasible, as depressives are often paralyzed by their illness and well-intentioned advice only shows them what they are all about Not can. It's enough if you just listen, really. If they want advice, ask for it.
3. Don't say "Let me know if you need anything"
Well meant, but unfortunately just off the mark. Because this sentence is so broad and demands so much initiative from a depressed person, which they simply cannot muster when they have just got out of bed but cannot take a shower or make breakfast. It is more likely that she will become world champion in tap dancing or invent a miracle cure for bad weather. Instead, whenever it is possible for you and you feel ready to do so, you can independently seek contact and proactively and specifically offer help, time or your ear. Examples such as “Have you already eaten today?”, An invitation to take a walk or a helping hand with cleaning can be reciprocated directly and are worth gold.
Even if you don't hear from them, it's very likely that they'll miss you like crazy. They just don't dare to contact you because they don't want to be annoying or disturbing or they tell themselves again that you don't love them anyway. What sounds almost absurd to a healthy person is unfortunately often part of everyday life for depressed people. It may be that you sometimes have to jump over your shadow, because you too have been upset that they haven't contacted you for so long. The difference to you and a depressed person, however, is that you can jump over your shadow, while depressed people are caught in an eternal vortex of dark thoughts.
Offer light activities like a short walk or hanging out on the balcony together. Activities that are too extreme, such as parties or weekend trips, can quickly become overwhelming, as it is a challenge for many of those affected to get out of bed at all. It can also be super overwhelming to meet in a café, because you have to go there alone and then there are so many other people and uiuiui. It helps when friends send me a message and say they could be in front of my door in 20 minutes, pick me up and then we briefly stroll through the neighborhood, eat an ice cream or stare at swans for 20 minutes. That may sound banal, but for depressed people it means the world. They will then no longer feel so alone and loved, are proud of themselves because they did something that day and you will be able to watch their mood at least improve a little. But please don't expect miracles.
5. Distraction, yes, but the right one
It might seem obvious to just celebrate away the bad mood. Have a few beers quickly and laugh a little, because laughter is the best medicine, isn't it? Right, laughing helps, but you shouldn't encourage so-called self-harming behavior. Depressed people tend not to be so nice to themselves and to take care of their health. Often a lot of unhealthy stuff is eaten, alcohol or other substances are consumed, which is really more than counterproductive. Rather, suggest time together that has nothing to do with intoxication or junk food. Watch a movie or any trash show, cook a healthy meal together or listen to a funny podcast.
6. Don't ask "How are you?"
You are unlikely to get an honest answer to this question. Are you feeling a little better today? Probably not, no. I know this certainty that the other person is doing super stupid is hard to take, and somehow you just hope every day that it's better today. But just leave it. It just reminds depressed people that those around them expect them to get better quickly.
7. Help the person seek help
It's pretty great that therapy is largely free in Germany, but you really have to try very hard to get a therapy place. First you have to go to the family doctor, who then writes a referral and then the search for a therapy place begins. To do this, you have to call all therapists in the area and chat with them on the answering machine. Or those affected first turn to a counseling center, because you often have to go there in person, which can be really very exciting and creepy. It can be of great help if you accompany them to these counseling centers or to the family doctor and wait with them in the waiting room. You can also help find phone numbers for psychologists, but they should call them by themselves. Offer to just sit by when they call contacts through. But it is important to understand that you cannot force anyone to seek help, the impulse has to come by itself. Nor should you judge the type of therapy or the choice of whether or not to take medication. Everyone has a different path to recovery, and that's perfectly okay.
8. Don't take rejection personally
Maybe you keep making offers that are all turned down. Maybe you call in every day and never get an answer. Yes, it's hard to come across granite so much, but there is nothing you can do about it now. Please do not take it personally, depressed people are often overwhelmed by social contacts. Or they have persuaded themselves to be a burden for everyone for so long that they are simply afraid of reaching for an outstretched hand. Either way, their rejection has more to do with their own lousy self-image than with you. YOU most likely did nothing wrong and if you can just keep trying to get in touch. It may sound absurd, but even if your contacts are ignored, they can still help and it can be very hurtful for depressed people when nothing comes. This is like a kind of confirmation: I knew nobody loved me Just give the person some time and then get back in touch, at least every now and then.
9. Help with small chores around the house
Small tasks can become big hurdles. To make the laundry? Impossible! Take out the trash! Not in this life! Washing up? Why not climb Mount Everest right away? But many are embarrassed about that, so it will be difficult for them to admit that they need help. During a visit you can tidy up something on the side or do the dishes while you have a cup of tea in the kitchen and chatter a little. Or you offer to hang up the laundry that has been sitting in the washing machine for far too long. Or you secretly water the houseplants. I have friends who always pretend they're in the supermarket next door and then write to me if I need toilet paper or something. When they leave, they often take the rubbish down with them as a matter of course. It is of course easier for roommates to offer this help, but even if you do not live together, you can still be a help in the household. Please do not blame depressed people that they are dirty or tell them to clean again, because with that you are only sprinkling salt into the depressed wound and, to be honest, this is not very nice even towards healthy people.
If you don't know what to do next, please get help: The telephone counseling service is available around the clock. The toll-free numbers are 0800/111 0111 and 0800/111 0222.
Here you can also find therapists in your area.
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