Ways To Support Your Loved Ones & Things That Make Depression Worse
Poor mental health can be a difficult thing to deal with for both the person experiencing it and for their loved ones. Sometimes people don’t know what to say or do to help, and they end up saying things that make depression worse.
Ways To Support Your Loved Ones & Things That Make Depression Worse
Men in particular can find it hard to talk about what they are feeling and often won't want to talk at all. It is important we make it clear that no judgement is being passed and that they have the choice between us offering solutions or simply just listening.
We know it can be hard to reassure people in a negative mindset and so we are going to discuss some of the best ways to support someone who is struggling in the hopes that the men in your life feel they can open up.
For people who haven't experienced mental health issues like anxiety or depression or perhaps have don’t have a grasp on how to manage it, being faced with someone struggling can leave you in an awkward position.
Many may even be under the false belief that mental health issues are not as bad as the person may be letting on. In this case, we'd like to remind you that it's usually the complete opposite.
Men tend to put on a facade around others – pretending like everything is fine when in reality they are desperate for help.
Thinking the person can just get over it or feel better overnight is one of the main things that make depression worse. Here's what NOT to say to a loved one who's struggling.
“It's all in your head"
No, it isn't. There could very well be a hugely traumatic event that catalysed these feelings. Similarly, built up over time – mental health can just keep declining. The more time men spend suppressing these emotions instead of getting help, the worse it can become.
Anyone with depression would love it if it was that simple. Even though there can be good days and bad days – even then the negativity isn't just forgotten about. Underneath that happy face are the true emotions just waiting to break through when no one is around.
Oftentimes things that make depression worse also mean it's harder to do the things we love and that would usually 'cheer us up' – so no matter how hard someone tries, it's just not that simple.
“I'm sure it's not that bad"
Everyone experiences mental health challenges differently. Some may be impacted more greatly than others and some will struggle to manage these feelings.
Just because you have down days and come out the other side, doesn't mean it's the same for your loved ones. Telling them this almost dismisses their feelings and can leave that person feeling more alone than ever.
“Look on the bright side"
It's all well and good thinking there is a bright side. However, for most suffering – one of the hardest things to do is to focus on the good. Instead, an overwhelming feeling of dread and burden clouds above – overshadowing any glimpse of light you may expect them to feel grateful for.
“Just think positive"
Similarly to the above point, when someone is so filled with negative thoughts, they begin to believe this is the only life for them. Intrusive thoughts and negative feelings begin to feel more real than anything else and can take over.
Even thinking positively can often lead to overthinking and withdrawing for things and people they love.
Ways You Can Support Someone With Depression
Now that we know a few of the things NOT to say, let's focus on some more positive and effective ways you can show your support.
“I'm here for you"
This is one of the most important things you can say. Being there for someone means being available to talk when they need it but also giving them space when they need it too. Just knowing you have someone to rely on can be a huge weight off their shoulders.
No matter what they need, you are opening yourself up as a safe space and reassuring them that they are not alone in this. Talking can be hard for men, so let your person know you're there for whatever they need.
“I believe you"
A lot of men feel like they need to be strong and so they bottle up their emotions instead of talking about how they're really feeling. By saying this, we are validating how he feels and letting him know his feelings are valid.
It can be easy to doubt yourself when you're feeling low, so this is a way of showing your support and boosting his confidence.
“Thank you for telling me"
This one might seem small, but it can make a world of difference. When someone opens up about their mental health, it's a big deal. It takes guts and courage to do so and we should be grateful that they trust us enough to confide in us.
Saying thank you reinforces that what they're doing is okay and that we are not judging them. This simple act of kindness can go a long way in making them feel comfortable talking about their mental health with us.
We all make mistakes and sometimes we say things without thinking about how they might affect someone else. If you accidentally say something that upsets or hurts your loved one, don't be afraid to apologise.
This shows them that you care about their feelings and want to make things right. It also shows them that it's okay to make mistakes – we all do it.
“How are you really doing?"
Asking open-ended questions is a great way to start a conversation about mental health. It allows your loved one to share as much or as little as they want and gives you a better understanding of how they're feeling.
It's important to follow up with this question and really listen to the answer. Showing genuine interest in their mental health will make them feel cared for and appreciated.
“Is there anything I can do to help?"
This is another great question to ask because it shows that you're willing to help in any way you can. Sometimes people suffering from depression just need someone to lend a helping hand.
It could be something as small as running an errand for them or taking the dog for a walk. Other times there may be nothing at all. Not everyone knows what they need right away. Whatever it is, let them know you're there and willing to help out however and whenever you can.
Not A Talker? Try This
If your loved one isn't the type to talk about their feelings, that's okay. Not everyone is and that doesn't make them any less valid. Here are a few things you can do to support someone who struggles to open up about their mental health:
- Spend time with them doing activities they enjoy
- Listen to them without judgement
- Offer help with self-care tasks or day-to-day chores
- Encourage them to seek professional help if they're struggling
- Point them in the direction of something that may have helped you in the past
Mental health is often seen as a taboo topic, especially for men. Society tells us we need to be strong and not show weakness. These are some of the things that make depression worse and can make it hard for men to reach out for help when they're struggling. As loved ones, it's important that we do what we can to support them.
Talking about it truthfully can be traumatic. It's often triggering for someone to express their thoughts if they aren't ready to do so. Just making the effort to make their lives a little easier, giving them less to worry about and proving their worth is a great start to healing.
Avoiding The Things That Make Depression Worse
These are just a few of the many ways you can show your support for someone struggling with mental health. Just remember to be patient, kind, and understanding. We all have mental health and some of us need a little more help than others.
If you or someone you know is struggling, there are resources available. Your GP can offer tailored advice as well as approach charities like Mind and ourselves for safe spaces to express and relate to others on the same journey.
No one should have to suffer from mental health alone. We are all in this together. Let's continue to support each other and break the stigma surrounding mental health.