Depression is a life-altering illness that not only drains the sufferer's zest for life but may also drive family and friends away. Being around someone who has no energy or motivation and constantly focuses on the negative is draining, but close personal relationships are critical for recovery. It is very important for family and friends to support the depression sufferer without getting burned out. Knowing a little bit about depression can help.
Depression is an illness that is neurophysiological, which means it is a brain disorder with biological origins. Exactly how it develops is unknown, but it appears that genetics and or environment play a part. It does not come from a moral weakness or laziness. A person cannot simply snap out of it. Accepting that they have an illness will help them and you immensely.
Medication helps some people.. However, there isn't one medication that works best for everybody.. It may take several trials of different medications to find the right one or combination that is effective. Be persistent. Medication may be part of the solution but there is no quick fix.
Therapy can help a person work through underlying issues and distorted thought patterns that exacerbate the depression. It can also help couples and families problem solve and resolve conflict in a productive manner. However, therapy alone is usually not enough.
Group therapy can be useful because it provides a place for feedback from others who can truly understand what having depression is like. People who are further along in their recovery can offer hope and inspiration to those who have lost sight of it.
The road to recovery can be long and full of ups and downs. It is common and normal for family and friends to feel angry and want to avoid the person with depression. It is also normal to feel afraid. It is important to remember that it is the illness that is causing the annoyance not the person.
Try to help them get out and do something. Use the power of inertia. Get them moving.. Take a walk, go to a movie, go shopping or do anything else that gets them out of the house. Expect resistence at times but be persistent.
Don't take it personally. You didn't cause the depression. It may make the sufferer more irritable and short-tempered than normal. Don't excuse negative behavior but try not to let it lead to resentful feelings.
Get the support you need. Stay in touch with friends and family. Take breaks when you can. Make sure you get your alone time. Spend time with people who aren't depressed. Moods are contagious and too much time around depression may leave you feeling depressed and unmotivated.
Therapy can help you understand what is happening and what you can do about it. It can be a great place to vent feelings and frustrations in a way that won't negatively impact your relationship with your depressed loved one.. Check your health insurance or employee assistance benefits.
The internet is a great resource and can provide educational materials and information on support groups. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance has support groups and information about depressive illnesses.
Finally, the sad reality of depression is that it can lead to death through suicide. It is important to have a safety plan including hospitals and phone numbers. Make arrangements so that you can communicate with the doctors and other health care providers involved in treatment.