Share Article

Start a Discussion

Articles > Helping a friend who's depressed

Helping a friend who's depressed

New research shows that emotional support is key to recovery. Here_s how to show you care.

Beth Howard

Provided by HealthMonitor

Julie Gallegos, 45, found a powerful antidote to depression'the support of friends and family. After the deaths of her mother, sister and niece over a 15-month period, family and friends helped her cope. One friend invited her for a walk every morning; another cooked her favorite meals. Family members attended Mass or read scripture with her.

Turns out, the Salt Lake City business owner had the right idea. "Without the support of family members and close friends, depression rarely gets better," says Michael Brodsky, MD, a psychiatrist in Pacific Palisades, CA. Indeed, researchers from Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University found that in addition to medical treatment, patients who recovered from depression were more likely to have received high levels of emotional support from family and friends.

How can you help a depressed loved one? Try these strategies:
" Know the symptoms. Friends and family members may be more likely to notice signs of depression than the sufferer, who may be in a fog of fatigue or confusion. Symptoms include a low energy level; weight loss or gain; trouble sleeping; feelings of worthlessness, sadness or guilt; and a loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable.
" Show your concern. Let your friend or family member know that you care and are worried about her emotional health. "Simply asking, "Are you depressed?" can help determine whether a person needs help," says Dr. Brodsky. Offer to make an appointment with a healthcare provider and accompany your loved one to the visit.
" Encourage healthy behaviors. Urge your loved one to exercise daily, which has been shown to improve mood.
" Use the right words. It's fine to correct perceptions your loved one might express, such as, "I am a failure." For instance, you can say something like, "You are a worthwhile person, and you mean a lot to me." But avoid judging their feelings. "Don't say, "There's no reason for you to be depressed," " says T. Byram Karasu, MD, chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
" Just be there. It's tempting to try to talk a loved one out of his or her feelings of sadness and despair, but it's more important to show your support. Just being present sends the message that you care.
" Be alert to worsening symptoms. "If the depressed person is sleeping longer or continues to lose weight for more than three weeks, he or she may need to be hospitalized," says Dr. Karasu. Watch for self-destructive behaviors, such as drinking too much alcohol or accumulating a large number of tranquilizers or other drugs that could be used in a suicide attempt. "Don't be afraid to ask a person if he or she is considering suicide," he adds. "It will not push him or her over the edge, as many people think." If there's an imminent threat to a person's life, call 911.
Anxiety Confusion Depression Disoriented Guilt Insomnia Mental Status Change Suicidal Thoughts Suicide Thoughts of Suicide Weight Loss Fatigue Lose Weight Exercise More Depression

Copyright © 2014 HeathMonitor. All Right Reserved.

Related Discussions
  • Constipation

    For a bit over a year now I've had on and off constipation problems. It started off spread out over months, but now more like weeks or days. I constantly have to worry about making sure I go everyday. Now, if I go just 24 hou...

  • ITP, Sjogrens Syndrome and a mystery thing with my sinuses that makes me "interesting" to my docs

    I have ITP which was a sudden onset back in August, 2007. Platelets went down to 3. ICU for fear of a brain bleed, transfusion, additional units of blood, 6 units of platelets and 23 of IVIG. No problems or treatment neede...

  • MS, Tecfidera and Progression

    Hello. I was diagnosed with MS in June, 2015. I mistook it for vertigo of some type because it started with little episodes of double vision that I perceived as dizziness. The right side of my face was a little numb and my ta...

  • Fibromyalgia

    Hello. I am 51 years old and was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 17 years ago. It took a few years to get the right combination of medications, but my FM was fairly well managed until the last couple of years. I am seeing an orth...

  • Kidney cancer plus

    As a 19 year Ovarian cancer survivor I am blessed now I was Recently diagnosed with a left kidney tumor that biopsy showed is cancer. Heading to OR in 19 days to remove tumor and part of kidney. Ok , what are you going to do....

  • Overweight

    suffer from bi-polar, depression, anxiety and overeating that may be a result of depression, anxiousness and even self hate.

  • Loss of Motivation

    It has been a while since I have been on here. Over the course of the last few weeks I have been having some major mood swings. My Depression, Bipolar, and Anxiety have been getting worse which in turn has left me with NO NO ...

  • from an old friend

    for those of you who remember Kelly she sent me an email to share some info and asked if i would share it with everyone here she thinks it might just help some of us and i agree so here it is
    Actually that's kind of th...

  • One year ago...

    I stopped working last July. Filed for disability. I'm awaiting a court date now. MS issues with fibro, with anxiety & depression, I'm not the same person I once was. I still have swelling issues that have now gone up to my t...

  • Low Dose Naltrexone

    At first I thought that Low Dose Naltrexone was going to be the ticket to get my fibro pain under control. However, when I was on it I was in a panic attack every minute. Ironically, they are thinking of trying it for anxiet...