6 unique ways to help a depressed person
Posted October 10, 2016
My teenage son has been battling depression for the last three years. He says he doesn’t have any choice but to endure this, as if it’s a life sentence. As his parents we have tried to get him to therapy and help with the cost of medication but he refuses our every attempt to help him. He doesn’t want to talk about it either. What can we do, we feel so powerless and are so worried about our son?
Depression is rough and it’s made even rougher by the stigma many feel about getting help for it. Many think getting help for mental illness means you're weak, messed up or broken. Because of this many refuse to get help and suffer for years convinced there is no way out. Just as equally, the support people, who love those who suffer, can feel the same way. It can feel like a lose-lose situation, but there are things you can do to make getting help and getting better easier.
Here are some things to consider for everyone dealing with depression or anxiety:
- Change the way you see human value. Depressed people are often paralyzed with the fear of failure (the fear they aren’t good enough) and this can make them reluctant to get help, because they are afraid it will make them look bad to others or they won’t be able to do it and will fail. They subconsciously think “not getting help” feels safer. Understanding that this is just a reaction to their fear of failure can reduce the frustration in the support person. Many people with depression despite their terrible emotional pain would rather stay with the familiar than risk failing. Speaking to them about the idea that there is no such thing as failure because life is a classroom, not a test, will help. Remind them that all human beings have the same intrinsic worth all the time and no illness, no action, no medication or treatment can change a person’s value. Make seeing all people as the same (in value) a regular discussion in your home. The more your family sees others with less judgment and more accuracy, they less fear of failure they will experience.
- Focus on the journey, not the destination. Don’t think you can't be happy until you are completely cured from depression or anxiety. Changing mental health is a process (to change your thinking, your brain chemistry and your life skills), and this process takes time. What you are looking for is progress, not perfection. Make sure they understand that this is the nature of life, it is constantly changing, but not overnight. If we focus too much on the destination, we can’t enjoy the journey. We can’t wait until we get there to be happy. You are here in this place today, focus on making the most of it, choosing gratitude and joy and celebrating the small wins and blessings.
- Believe there are no mistakes, only lessons. Many people with depression are fearful of making decisions, but you will remain stuck until you get out of your comfort zone and take a risk. Decisions become easier when you choose to believe everything in life has purpose and meaning in it. Teach your family to see the universe as a wise teacher, who uses every choice we make to teach, educate and serve us. It turns every choice into a perfect lesson, and no matter what you choose you will benefit from the perfect lesson that choice creates. Encourage your depressed child to celebrate the success of making a decision to try something new. That is a win no matter what they choose.
- Upskill and gain some new tools. In order for change and progress to be made there must be a change in knowledge. In the same way that we cannot expect a middle school student to complete high school math, we cannot expect a person who suffers depression to be happier, more balanced and functional without more skills and knowledge. Many people who suffer with chronic and long-term depression are there because they aren’t getting new information, knowledge or skills to make changes. By failing to invest in help that gives them medical support or new tools and techniques, the same behavior continues. The key to beating and managing mental illness is upskilling (and getting chemical support when necessary). There are many ways to cope, adapt and manage our emotions, thinking and behavior. Dr Phil said it best — “the best indicator for future behavior is past behavior.” That is, until we get some new strategies for thinking, feeling and behaving better.
- Get the whole family involved. It will help a depressed person greatly if the whole family will change and learn new coping skills together. The best therapeutic and functional outcomes for people with depression happen when the whole family works on the new skills together. If the whole family doesn’t learn the new skills, there will still be relationship and communication triggers, which will continue to keep the depressed person stuck. If the solutions undertaken are holistic and include exercise, better diet, natural supplements and homeopathic remedies, the potential for change is also much greater. We see families who are all willing to make these changes alongside those with the depression, have more successful outcomes. If the depressed person is refusing to go to therapy or coaching, you might try taking the whole family to a class. We offer a monthly Life Coaching Family Night, that will upskill everyone to think, feel and behave better. New thinking skills really take hold if the whole family learns the principles and practices them together.
- Learn about psychological differences. Learn about the different psychological inclinations of each family member, because they each have unique fears, values and behavior patterns that can lead to depression or anxiety. By understanding these it becomes easier to see how this happened and the choices available to them to become happier and experience more self-love. To learn more about your psychological inclinations and the core fears that lead to depression or anxiety, visit our website.
So where do you get started? Do you drag the depression sufferer to therapy kicking and screaming or give ultimatums? Absolutely not! It is more helpful to talk through their concerns around getting help and express your love for them and desire for them to be happier. In turn express your willingness to stand by them every step of the way and to learn some new skills and techniques with them. Let them know there are also lots of homeopathic options to address the chemical or physiological side of depression, and taking a drug is only one of them.
Every person who suffers depression must choose to keep trying to find solutions or remain stuck. Most people do best with lots of tools to help navigate their negative feelings and emotions along with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Be patient with him though and remain aware that this is your perfect classroom to have this person who needs your patience in your life.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.