How to help a loved one in depression and save themselves?

Since the start of the health crisis, the number of people with depression has only increased. Faced with the suffocating discomfort of their loved one, spouses, friends, or family sometimes struggle to find the resources necessary to help them while sustaining themselves. Here are some tips to help those who accompany a depressed person on a daily basis.

Understanding the disease

According to a study published in “The Lancet” in 2020, cases of major depressive disorder and anxiety have increased by 28% and 26%, respectively, increasing the number of people accompanying a loved one in this situation.

In order to effectively help your partner, a friend or a family member without exhausting yourself, it is first essential to fully understand what is behind the term ‘depression’. This illness, which is mainly characterized by deep sadness, a feeling of despair combined with a loss of motivation, can also lead to eating or sleeping disorders, suicidal thoughts and a total loss of self-confidence.

To move forward, the sick person needs psychological, sometimes psychiatric follow-up with the help of drugs, but also a lot of listening and kindness from the people around him. To find the resources necessary to effectively help one of your loved ones, discover here the wise advice of psychiatrist Christophe André, and there that of a mother who guided her son for several months on the road to recovery. †

Take time for yourself

Being attentive, present, caring and a source of motivation to a loved one in depression can be exhausting on a daily basis. So it is essential for you, but also for the person you are accompanying, to take care of yourself. If your support is essential, it should be measured to give you the breathing room you need for your own mental health.

So remember to keep doing the things you love, even if you now have to do them alone. Going to the movies, visiting friends, visiting an exhibition or taking advantage of a beautiful day for a walk are good opportunities to give yourself a moment of peace where you can fully recover. Above all, be careful not to trap yourself in a bubble that could harm you in the long run.

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Relativize your role as a carer

Your presence next to your depressed loved one is, of course, essential. But the burden of his recovery cannot rest on you alone. It is important to put your role into perspective. Other factors play a role, such as the quality of the therapeutic follow-up of the depressed person or the presence of other people who can play a moral supportive role.

Surround yourself well

To move forward and fight your loved one’s depression, you need a strong team. It is important to communicate about your psychological situation with other people who can also come and help the sick person. For you, it’s a good way to pass the baton every now and then to protect yourself, and for your loved one, it’s a chance to see that they are well surrounded.

Don’t take things personally

Immersed in a deep malaise, the depressed person may have harsh words. It is essential to stay focused and at the same time not take everything personally. Easier said than done… But by living with a depressed person it is possible to put yourself in the mood to worry, so it is essential to do everything you can to keep your compass by separating your own emotions of your loved one. suffer from depression.

Join a support group

Why not share your experience with those going through the same thing as you, to “keep your head above water” and keep morale up? Indeed, there are support groups all over France for those who commit themselves on a daily basis to the well-being of their loved ones who suffer from severe depression.

Since 1963, UNAFAM (the National Association of Families and Friends of the Sick and/or Mentally Handicapped) has brought together more than 15,000 families in France. The association organizes discussion groups to keep informal carers on track. For more information, visit their site here.

For its part, the France-Dépression association offers a national listening and information line for all healthcare providers. At the end of the line, former carers who are trained in active listening provide advice and information. To reach them, simply call this number: 01 84 72 94 72.

To take care of others, you must start by taking care of yourself…

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