Okay… Really, this is how to help someone with depression and anxiety. This is based off my own personal beliefs, experiences, and research.
Depression and anxiety affect almost everyone. Someone may have one depressive episode once in a blue moon, while someone else could fluctuate into an episode multiple times a year. Most people get a little anxious when having to present, while others may be curled up on the floor in the middle of an airport panicking about too many people, fear of flying, or the paranoia that someone is carrying a bomb.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. You’ll research symptoms of a common cold, so why not the symptoms for depression?
If you see a friend, family member, or partner struggling, ask yourself why? And if you don’t know why, ask them. And if they tell you, yet you don’t quite understand, look into it.
Educate yourself on that persons triggers, symptoms, and coping mechanisms. And while you’re at it, educate yourself on your own personal triggers, symptoms, and coping mechanisms.
- Hold their hand
Literally and figuratively.
Someone with depression may be afraid to seek help. It could be based on negative past experiences or fear of judgement. It may seem irrational to you. It may seem irrational to them.
The amount of hand holding comes down to each persons comfort level and needs. In my experience, I wanted both. I wanted my partner to hold my hand, hold me, when I had a panic attack. I also wanted them to help me find counseling and take me to appointments.
I literally asked, “Can you help me find a counselor.” And, I had a tendency to ask for my partner to come with me to certain doctor visits. Usually when it was a scary appointment or I knew I would struggle driving home.
Not everyone is as vocal as I am. So, just as you may struggle to express how you feel, your partner probably is too. Be the bigger duck and offer help.
If you are comfortable providing assistance, whether it be researching counseling/health centers or driving to and from appointments, then go for it. Giving a helping hand doesn’t necessarily mean you are enabling that person to not help themselves. It’s okay to hold someone up until they can stand on their own.
- Take care of yourself
Now, I say it’s okay to hold someone up until they can stand on their own, but that’s only if you’re standing on your own. You cannot take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.
Being with someone who has depression/anxiety can be draining. It’s hard not to take everything to heart. It’s difficult to keep giving when you feel the other person isn’t returning the same amount back.
If, at any point, you start to feel drained or your own mental health takes a tumble…Seek help! It could be as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood. It can be talking to a friend. Or it could be going to counseling yourself.
You need to find a balance between giving to others and giving to yourself.
I can’t express enough how important it is to listen to the person in distress. And distress can show itself in many ways. It could be as obvious as crying puddles of tears or silent as a shrug here or there. If someone jokes about falling down the stairs to end their life or if they tell you how tired they are, listen. Depression can be tricky and deceiving, so it is not an easy task. Even if it’s difficult, don’t give up.
Communication is probably the most important factor, in any kind of relationship. In an ideal world, people would be able to express how they felt with no judgement. The world isn’t exactly like that, but you can try and make it so for your relationship. Try and work towards creating a safe environment for discussions. If both people are open and honest about their needs/feelings, things may flow a lot better.
Creating that environment is up to you. It could mean you setup a specific time during the day/week/month to discuss how you’re both doing. It could be going to counseling together with a mediator. However you decide to go about it, do it together.
I am no professional when it comes to any of these points. But, I try and am currently trying to follow these guidelines.
How you decide to define yourself, values, and relationships is unique to you.
Do what you are comfortable with. Do what you can.