As part of my series on communication, this post discusses what was touched on in the last one, incorporating communication and depression.
While I still firmly believe it is overdiagnosed, there are, of course, people who truly do suffer from depression, and find that their lives and the things that used to give them pleasure hold no allure for them anymore, and that they themselves are merely empty shells, barely a shadow of what they used to be. Depression is a serious disorder, and while medicine is the go to for treating it, I propose that it should be the last resort, rather than the first.
The role of social support
The pain and emotional turmoil that become part of the daily lives of people with depression cannot be downplayed. This is often exacerbated by the fact that people around them do not have a full understanding of this turmoil, and as such admonish their loved ones to ‘Get over it’, or ‘Snap out of it’. This is simply not possible. Helping a loved one with depression involves being aware, or at least sympathetic of, the plight this individual is suffering through. The isolation that can be the result of people around them not fully grasping their inner emptiness can be combated by their loved ones increasing their own knowledge and understanding of depression, and being able to communicate this with them. Simply talking it out is certainly not the cure, but someone who understands and cares enough to be there, even sitting in silence sometimes, being the tranquil, steady support, can be invaluable, and communicate to the individual that they are loved and accepted.
What else can be done?
Encourage your loved one to engage in things that used to make them happy. You cannot force this, but you can be a reminder of it. People with depression will avoid things that used to make them happy, and attempting to refresh their memory as to why this thing or activity brought them pleasure can create a spark. A healthy diet, exercise and enough sleep are also important tools for people with depression – communicate this to them and provide the support they may need to get into it.
Don’t give up on them.
Simply because they are not ‘Coming right’ as quickly as you like, doesn’t mean that in their heart of hearts they don’t know that you care, or that you aren’t playing a crucial part in the process involved in them reaching inner peace.
While you can provide social support, people with depression need professional help – they may be reluctant to seek it, but depression is too serious an issue not to be dealt with, or to be taken lightly.