To understand how to offer assistance of any form to a depressed husband or wife, we first need to understand what depression is its signs, its repercussions, and then lastly, how to counter this condition.
Depression refers to a medical condition that negatively affects a persons’ judgment, feelings, and thinking. This illness leads to several emotional and physical maladies such as sadness, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed anger, emotions of loss, low mood, and feelings of restlessness. There are nine forms of depression, which include: persistent depression, major depression, situational depression, seasonal depression, manic depression (bipolar disorder), perinatal depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and lastly, atypical depression.
Sometimes a person with depression may not always seem to be depressed to the people surrounding him; hence, it’s essential to note major and minor symptoms of depression. Those symptoms can also be sub-divided into the whole body, cognitive, sleep, behavioral, mood, and weight.
i. Loss of appetite
• The Cognitive signs
i. The slowed conduction of activities
ii. A slowed thinking
iii. They may experience suicidal thoughts.
iv. They lack concentration in their work
• The signs of sleep
i. Restlessness in their sleep.
ii. They may excessively sleep.
iii. Some may abnormally wake up early.
iv. They may experience insomnia.
• Behavioral signs
ii. Excessive crying.
iii. Social isolation.
iv. General restlessness.
v. Some may be agitated.
ii. Loss of interests in activities one once loved.
iii. Mood swings.
i. Weight loss.
ii. Weight gain.
After recognizing that your husband or wife is experiencing the above signs and symptoms, it’s essential to learn how to approach them and help them cope with their situation or get out of it. Sometimes one may be overwhelmed in helping the other partner to the level of even neglecting their health; hence with the following methods, one can be crucial to their partner’ recovery without necessarily endangering their health or neglecting their family responsibilities.
1. Talking to them about depression.
Generally, it’s hard to know how to approach this situation, especially someone you are close to due to the fear of making the partner angry or feel insulted or feel that you are invading his/her privacy. It’s keynoting that, especially for depressed people, being a compassionate listener is more helpful than merely giving them advice. Hence whenever you are helping your depressed husband/wife, you can make emphasize the skill of listening, analyzing, and encouraging your partner to talk about their feelings is of more importance than merely giving advice and being judgmental. In most cases, depressed persons usually isolate themselves; hence if you need to express your concerns, it’s essential to be persistent but still gentle and caring when having conversations with them.
If you don’t know how to start conversations I suggest you start in the following ways;
“Lately, I have been feeling concerned about you.”
“Lately, you seem pretty down. I want to check with you if you are doing fine and hopefully, you know am always here for you if you need to talk”
“I think you are having a problem that you are not willing to share with me since recently, and I have noticed some changes in your character.”
You can also start those conversations with questions such as:
“Has it crossed your mind that there are people who can help?”
“What happened to make you start feeling this way?”
“Do you need my help right now? Or you need some time alone.”
“When did these feelings begin?”
Being supportive of a depressed person involves offering advice. Generally, it also consists of providing a glimpse of hope and encouragement. It’s key to mind your language when talking to a depressed person since, in some cases, they may be emotional and violent.
- Please encourage them to go for therapy sessions or find support.
It’s critical noting that some people may be undergoing depression and still not be aware of their situation. They may also find the process of finding a therapist and getting an appointment daunting. If he/she is interested in getting this therapy, you should review potential therapists and help them book for an interview. You can also talk and help them come up with a list of things to talk about to their therapist on the first day of their sessions. Also, you can offer to drive or accompany them to their meetings. It will show them how concerned you are for their wellbeing, and that’s pretty helpful.
- Encourage and support him/her in their therapy.
Sometimes depressed people have a desire to self-isolate themselves; hence they may develop feelings of canceling their therapy appointments. It’s your work to increase and encourage them to have their appointments. You can, for example, state the kind of changes you saw or said they experienced after their sessions. For example, you can say, “last week your sessions were very productive, and afterward your behavior was encouraging. I think that’s the power of having your sessions.”
For the case of medical therapy (those requiring them to take medicine), you may find out that he/she wants to quit their medication due to feelings of the drugs’ generally side effects. In this case, you can encourage them to talk to their psychiatrist on changing their medication or helping them stop taking them altogether.
You can also find time together, do some physical activities, prepare meals along with him/her, and encourage them to engage in conversations with people both at home and at work. You can also plan and go to fun activities together.
- Please encourage them to learn about depression themselves.
As I said, the earlier one can be having depression and still have no idea. In this case, the depressed may find the act of explaining to a person what they are going through exhausting and annoying. Hence you can encourage them on ways of learning about depression themselves. Help them note their symptoms and then research how to curb or treat their depression. This way, they can generally understand more about their situation and, even during their therapy sessions, quickly understand their therapist’s requirements. It increases the speed of their path to recovery.
- Be patient with them.
In some cases, patency is the most crucial aspect of helping someone going through depression since impatience may be hurtful as much as ignoring and pushing away. It may force the depressed to fraudulent acts of toughness and positive behavioral changes, increasing the probability of suicide. Being patient with them is another way of offering your outside help as it helps them acknowledge that no matter how long it takes, you will always be there for them. They also require this kind of support when facing the critical stages of recovery, starting from the onset of their symptoms to the recovery period. Patience gives them hope of love hence reducing the suicidal thoughts caused by hopelessness, negligence, and loneliness.
While helping a depressed person, it’s also important to note the don’ts for supporting them:
• Don’t try to fix them.
• Don’t take his/her depression personally.
• Avoid offering advice until asked.
• Please don’t decide to take a stance on medication unless they choose to
• Don’t try to compare their experience with your family members or friends.