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Help someone with depression or anxiety

What’s the Idea?

People with depression or anxiety need support – and may not realise they are ill. Find out how to help someone with depression or anxiety.

What’s the story

For about 10 years of my life I suffered from episodes of depression and anxiety.

Fortunately I taught myself to spot and manage the symptoms, so it’s a rare event these days.

However I learned a lot about the kind of support a person with one of these conditions needs, and what others around them can do to help.

I want to share this knowledge from the perspective of a one-time sufferer, in the hope it can help more people on the road to recovery.

People should do this because…?

Watching someone go through depression and/or anxiety is a terrible thing.

If you are in a position to help someone with anxiety or depression it can be hugely beneficial to that individual’s recovery.

Especially because people with depression and anxiety don’t always know how to ask for help.

(Or even know that they have a condition in the first place.)

No-one wants to watch a friend, relative, or colleague suffer.

And if it’s someone really close to you, helping that person is beneficial to everyone in the group, not just the sufferer.

How do you do it?

First of all, it’s really important to try to understand that the person with depression or anxiety is (almost certainly) acting out of character.

Their behaviour has been impacted by the condition.

If you can keep this in your head, you will find it much easier to help them.

Because people with depression and anxiety can sometimes behave irrationally, or aggressively, or be not nice to be around generally.

It’s not their fault.

It’s just really hard to maintain an ‘ordinary’ life, and ‘ordinary’ relationships, with these kinds of illnesses.

Things you can do to help someone with depression or anxiety are as follows:

  • Research their condition so you can understand what they are going through;
  • If you know other people who have had the condition, or people close to them, talk to them to understand and learn from their experience;
  • Let them know you are there for them, in whatever capacity they need;
  • Tell them you love them and/or care about them. They will probably find it hard to believe but it will make a difference somewhere in the background;
  • Be patient – these kind of conditions can have a long recovery time (6 months is typical for depression);
  • Don’t pressure them, be gentle;
  • Absorb any bad behaviour as much as you can, they are not themselves and are probably already feeling as guilty as it’s possible to feel;
  • If you’re in a position to, try to make sure they eat, healthily if possible, and take at least a small amount of exercise;
  • Gently suggest relaxation and self-care activities, without forcing the issue;
  • Encourage them to seek professional help, or if things get really bad, seek it on their behalf;
  • If you start to feel low or unhappy yourself (perfectly understandable), take time to take care of yourself.

The following are useful resources:

NHS – help someone with depression

Mind – help someone with anxiety / panic attacks

Beyond Blue – help someone with depression or anxiety

Links to other Stuffer pages

https://stufftodoathome.com/recognise-depression-symptoms/, https://stufftodoathome.com/recognise-anxiety-symptoms/, https://stufftodoathome.com/take-depression-test/, https://stufftodoathome.com/take-anxiety-test/

Links to other articles on the web

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