Dear Therapist: How do I help someone with depression?

Dubai - The weekly Dear Therapist responds to our reader's mental health queries

By Prateeksha Shetty

Published: Thu 5 Aug 2021, 5:45 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 Sep 2021, 10:29 AM

How can I get closer to someone who’s going through depression when I can’t physically be there with them? It’s hard to assess how I should behave around them as different things seem to trigger them at different times, due to mood swings. I feel helpless but I really want to be there for them. — Jay M.

Dear Jay, caregivers of people suffering from depression find themselves in such precarious situations on a daily basis. While the person wants attention and affection, it is hard for them to reach out for help or support due to their debilitating symptoms. Ideally, your friend/loved one and you need to discuss the kind of depression they suffer from, symptoms, their triggers, times they need help (but don’t reach out) and the way they would like to be helped. Some may express their sadness as anger, or anxiety whereas others are able to regulate it through conversations, art or physical activity. As such, it is important to understand what the person needs from you in order to feel supported.

I suggest that you check in on them from time to time to see how they are coping. It is important that your friend has the space to reflect on his or her experiences and struggles. Allowing the person to withdraw or step back from social obligations when it gets too much can also help your relationship with him/her. It is also advisable that you recommend them to get professional help to alleviate their distress.

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