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15 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Suffer From Depression

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15 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Suffer From Depression

Sixteen million Americans are diagnosed with depression. Around the world, this condition affects around 350 million people. However, there are still so many negative stigmas and false knowledge about depression prevailing in the modern society.

The first most important thing to remember is that nobody “wallows” in depression as if it’s a cozy hot bath tub. Depression is not a choice. It’s a severe physical condition that needs special treatment and attention. When you deal with someone having depression (a loved one or just a casual acquaintance), please do not forget about the following things:

1. They experience much more than sadness

Depression does not equal to sadness. In fact, it’s a complicated mix of of feelings and physical changes in the body. Apart from overwhelming sadness, it rolls in with a huge bundle of other emotions like anxiety, disturbance, apathy, tension and more. Don’t ask them about where their anxiety came from, instead, offer them to help dealing with it.

2. They are not weak

Some of the most influential and talented people in the world suffered from depression. These people include J.K. Rowling, Robin Williams, and more. And that’s absolutely fine. In fact, as Dr.Neel Burton puts it in his TED talk it is our modern society that created a negative stigma around depression.

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The book author Eric G. Wilson develops this thought even further and writes: “I for one am afraid that our American culture’s overemphasis on happiness at the expense of sadness might be dangerous, a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life. I further am wary in the face of this possibility: to desire only happiness in a world undoubtedly tragic is to become inauthentic, to settle for unrealistic abstractions that ignore concrete situations“.

Being sad, overwhelmed and depressed is absolutely fine. It doesn’t mean people with depression are just weak. It means they just need to address some important life problems and learn to deal with them.

3. They won’t become happy if they just start acting like one

Sadly, they can’t just snap of being depressed. They cannot do the “happy things” and become happier.  Depression severely affects brain chemistry. It’s a condition that you can’t get rid of by simply switching your mood. Don’t push them into doing things that might make them delight or force them to have fun. As Sabrina Benaim puts it in her video: “It’s just not so that much fun having fun when you don’t want to have fun”.

4. They often have insomnia they can’t beat

Counting sheep won’t do the trick here. Their mind rings with thousand questions and thoughts keeping them awake at night. If you find them sitting in the kitchen in 3 am, don’t force them back to bed. Offer your company (even silent), a glass of something warm and a soothing talk or book, or anything else that might help them get rid of those pesky thoughts.

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5. They don’t make something out of nothing

Depression is a serious, biological illness that leaked into their existence. And they definitely did not choose to be depressed. Why would anyone choose to have Lyme disease or polio? It’s beyond your control and being depressed is not a choice. Sure, there are ways to practice mental health, but no one can be 100% sure that depression will never happen to them. They did not choose to feel this way. Don’t forget that!

6. They may push you away

Among other complicated feelings, people with depression often feel guilty for being a burden to their close ones.  They prefer to appear “busy” while secretly craving for a company. They often isolate themselves simply because they worry to much about burdening the close ones with their illness. Don’t force them to hang out together, but gently remind you are always here for them and will not stop loving them.

7. They can listen to your problems too

Dealing with their own problems, absolutely doesn’t mean they don’t want to (or can’t handle) listening to your problems and feelings. In fact, it helps them focus on something else than their own troubles, plus feel better for being a good friend/partner.

8. They can’t handle “tough-love” approach

If you think that you can “fix” them by making demands, creating ultimatums e.g. “I’ll break up with you if you don’t get better now!”, you are one step away from traumatising them even more!  Depression isn’t something you can cure with threats and “tough love” approach. It’s unrealistic and manipulative of you.

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9. They become easily overwhelmed

Don’t be mad when they suddenly cancel plans or choose to leave home early. It’s not about what you did or said. It’s just one of the side effects of having this condition. At one moment you feel great and full of enthusiasm, but just a few moments later overwhelming tiredness rolls in and all the energy is gone. You see, people with depression need more effort to get through their day. Small things can seem exhausting to them. Some days they have more energy left to do some good stuff, some days they finish up empty.

10.  They have “good days”, but it doesn’t mean it’s all gone

People with depression can have “good days” when they are completely happy just as anyone else around. However, don’t swiftly assume they are no longer sick and would be cured forever. Depression isn’t as simple as that. Have fun with them today and help them get through tomorrow even if their condition returns in its worse.

11. They never mean to hurt you

Watching how your close one’s suffering from depression can be a painful experience. It’s hard to understand and accept their self-harm attempts, daily struggles and frequent crying.

Sadly, depression is a selfish disease. We can say harsh things, be mean, push you away, and do other unpleasant things we actually don’t mean to. It’s all out of tremendous hurt we are trying to deal with.  And we often prefer to hurt ourselves instead, just not to hurt you (which is rather obscure as you suffer as well eventually). It’s challenging to love someone with depression, so we are very, very grateful you are here with us.

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12. They understand when you get frustrated

People with depression perfectly understand how difficult it is for you to cope with their state. There’s no need to walk on eggshells when you’re around them.  Yes, they need your love and support, but they also don’t expect complete self-sacrifice from you. Once your feeling boil up, don’t be afraid to talk with them about it and work a better strategy together! Set up appropriate boundaries and you’ll be good.

13. They are proud of small achievements

Things that may sound insignificant to you can mean the whole world to them. Getting out of bed today is an achievement, and so does going out or falling asleep easily for 3 days straight. Be proud of those small progresses even if they may seem minuscule to you. Remember, they will aim for bigger things once they get healthy. But for now, it’s the small things they should learn to accomplish daily.

14. They are loyal friends and partners

Yes, it’s challenging to be close with a depressed person. A lot of friends will leave them during their illness, however if you stick with them, you’ll have the most loyal friend you can ever imagine. The support and efforts you’ve made for them would be never forgotten.  If you make it till the end together, you’ll share the bond very few people can boast of. They will always be there for you and you will never fight anything alone.

15. They will get better one day

As any physical illness, depression can be treated. One day, the storm will pass and you’ll find yourself next to an amazing person and grateful loyal friend for a lifetime!

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Featured photo credit: gagilas via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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