Depression is a common disorder, especially in the US. More and more people are getting depression in their younger years instead of into their late adulthood. It’s hard to watch someone you love struggle with depression. There is only so much we can do to help. The temptation is to dive in and “save” them. However, acting as a human life raft will only lead to codependency and frustration. So, here are some real ideas on how to truly help someone cope with their depression.
Do their laundry.
This may seem random, but it’s not. It makes a world of a difference to have clean clothes and sheets, especially if you’ve been clinging to the same sweatshirt and sweatpants for the last week. Having your laundry done and folded and bed made provides a sense of renewal and safety. It is a cleansing feeling that can sometimes help shake the depressive blues.
Get them outside.
There are many recent studies that show that fresh air and daylight can help lighten depression. Getting outside can be a true struggle for someone in a depressed state. Be wary not to push too hard. A walk around the block or standing outside on their patio might be just enough. Anything more might seem too overwhelming and daunting.
Cook them something good.
The temptation during depression is to hone in on the highly sugary and fatty foods. This is no accident. When we eat these foods (aka junk food), the chemicals contained within signal to our endorphins, thus, giving us a temporary “feel good” moment. However, what would really make the difference during this time is not cake, but a fresh, wholesome meal. Offer to cook them something light (think fish, greens, and fruit) or pick something up from the local grocery store. This becomes especially pertinent if your loved one has the type of depression that causes them to avoid eating.
Sit in silence (sans expectations).
No TV. No music. No phones. Depression can be debilitating. There are times when people would like to just sit with their thoughts, but the idea of being physically alone feels scary. By being present for your loved one without expecting them to talk in return, you’re saying, “I don’t have to know specifics to offer you my love and attention” and that is extremely powerful.