What relatives and friends can do….
Depression can change a person completely. It is possible, for example, that a former cheerful partner suddenly becomes impassive, suffering from feelings of guilt, inner emptiness and hopelessness. In their helplessness in the face of depression, relatives often develop feelings of guilt or even anger about the sick person themselves.
If the depressive phase lasts longer, the relatives can become overburdened and exhausted because they have to relieve the affected person of a multitude of everyday tasks. Self-help groups for relatives can be an important help for the affected family members.
The following advice applies in particular to relatives of severely depressed patients:
- Consult a doctor!
- Stay patient!
- Do not overtax yourself!
- Be cautious with well-intentioned advice!
- Do not make important decisions!
- Dealing with suicidal tendencies
Accept depression as a disease
Consult a doctor!
As with any serious illness, seek medical advice as soon as possible. Take the initiative and arrange a doctor’s appointment for the patient. Since depressively ill people often blame themselves for their condition and do not think of a disease, they often do not consider a visit to the doctor necessary.
Because hopelessness is as much a part of depression as cold is a part of influenza, many sufferers do not believe that they can be helped at all. Many sufferers also lack the strength to visit a doctor. Therefore, it is often very important to support the relatives when they go to the doctor.
Many depressed people complain and despair, often withdrawing from their environment. Be patient with the affected person. Always remind them that depression is a disease that passes and can be easily treated. Do not try to convince the patient of the baselessness of his feelings of guilt. Do not argue whether his negative view is “objectively” justified or not. Neither will succeed.
Do not dismiss the physical discomfort and fear of illness of the depressed person as exaggerated or “only psychologically conditioned”, because people suffering from depression do not dramatise their experience. It is the depression that also increases slight pain or discomfort to an almost unbearable level.
Do not turn away from your sick relative, even if he seems to you to be so dismissive.
Don’t overtax yourself!
If a person is depressed for months, the disease will certainly also burden you as a relative. It is therefore important that you know the limits of your resilience and do not lose sight of your own interests. Do something good for yourself more often, maintain contacts with friends.
Build up a network of friends and acquaintances for your support or organize help in other ways. In addition to the social psychiatric services and other institutions of the psychiatric care system, the Bundesverband der Angehörigen
Be cautious with well-intentioned advice!
It makes no sense to advise a depressively ill person to switch off or to travel for a few days, because a strange environment usually disturbs the patient even more. Also do not advise the patient to “gather together” – a sick person cannot fulfil this requirement. The advice may even increase their feelings of guilt. The same applies to attempts at encouragement. On the other hand, you should always support your relative when he shows initiative.
Don’t make any important decisions!
Always be aware that depressed people see reality in many ways through “depressive glasses”, i.e. distorted, and can therefore make decisions that they may evaluate quite differently once they have overcome the illness. Take this into account in all matters concerning your private or professional future.
It is important for patients and their relatives to obtain comprehensive information about the disease at an early stage, e.g. through literature.
Dealing with suicidal tendencies
Sometimes a severely depressed person finds his situation so hopeless that he no longer wants to live. There can be more or less clear signs of such an emergency.
Which alarm signs should you take seriously? What can you do if you know an acutely suicidal person?
The right words, the right deeds: How to support relatives with depression
How do you help a loved one during a depression? Uwe Hauck has been living with depression for years and knows how friends and family can support relatives with depression. 10 tips from the point of view of a person affected.
Every year, 5.3 million people in Germany fall ill with depression. We all know people who live with depression. However, many people are unsure how they can help relatives, their partners, family members or friends during these difficult times. As an affected person, Uwe Hauck knows only too well how important the right support is during a depression by the environment. He himself has been living with depression for several years now and therefore knows how friends and family can support those affected. He has put together the most important tips for us.
I am depressed. How many times have I said this sentence in the meantime? And sooner or later the question of a relative, a friend, a friend or a partner always came up: What can I do, how can I help? If you know someone who is affected, if you even love him, it happens all too quickly that you assume that you have to take responsibility for the suffering and its healing.
But as my therapist so aptly puts it to my wife: It’s not her illness, it’s his. Of course it is helpful to have a strong partner at your side. But nobody can achieve the change, the improvement of the disease situation, except the affected person himself. But what would be good advice or behaviour for the partner or relative of a person affected?
Accept that your loved one is not well.
How often have I heard sentences like: This is not so bad after all.
He or she is much worse off than you are. You have everything.
Everything may be true, but in the depths of depression it’s little to no help at all. It actually makes everything even worse, because it can promote feelings of guilt and further slipping into depression. Here pure acceptance helps, the recognition that the affected person is ill and he or she needs help.
Encourage your relatives to seek help
A difficult but important point. Especially if the person concerned is only depressed for a longer period of more than 2 weeks, it is good to encourage them to visit the doctor. This does not have to be a therapist or psychologist. Many general practitioners can provide a first indication and refer to the appropriate specialist. And once this one step has been taken, there is at least a greater probability that further help will be accepted.
Do not take rejection personally
Particularly in a bad phase of depression, the person affected often withdraws, no longer wants to see anyone, does not want to do anything. Please do not interpret this as a personal attack.
In the dark phase, depression keeps you under control in such a way that even the smallest activities often appear to be a burden that can hardly be created. In addition there are mostly feelings of guilt because one does not function and the lack of understanding of the wider environment.
This retreat is not meant personally and each member of a concerning should make itself before eyes that this behavior is pushed back in the better phases. It is the illness, not the person. As someone with a broken leg cannot participate so easily in sport, a person with a broken soul cannot participate so easily in everyday life.