Depression can be an insidious and isolating disorder.It is a mood disorder often characterized by low morale, feeling sad, and a loss of interest in general things. It is not a short-term phenomenon. It can make people behave in unfriendly ways and can sabotage relationships.

If you’re someone who is struggling with depression, you may feel the urge to help them and make them feel better in order to get out of the state of depression. But, it is often not an easy task dealing with a person who is suffering from depression. In fact, you may find yourself getting confused, get frustrated and distraught yourself. This is because while you are trying to help, you don’t know how the other person may take it, and the fear of upsetting them even more hinders your willingness. Many times, people consider themselves at such a loss that they end up adopting the silent approach because the other person won’t really take any advice.

No matter what, your support is significant and important. There are some ways to support your loved ones when they’re battling depression.

1. Your presence Matters!

The best way you can help your loved one is bybeing there with them at all times. People who are struggling with depression often find the most healing moments when their loved ones sit with them while theycry, wordlessly hold their hands, or speak to them warmly. Your presence will allow them to gradually open up and vent out everything that is bothering them and making them sad.

2. Tell them they are ‘Important’ to you!

Emotional expressions of care and love are always helpful. But sometimes, you can also express your support in other ways, like small gestures. Try anything like sending a greeting card or a simple text message, cooking them a meal, or even leaving a voicemail telling them how important they are to you. Such gestures tend to become a beacon of light that can help your loved ones.

3. Criticism can cause damage!

People with depression are highly sensitive to critical statements and may not take them well. What you say to them can have both positive & negative impact on your loved ones.Refrain from criticizing them or telling them how they are being silly and focussing only on the negative side of things. They might take such statements negatively by believing that you are implying they are depressed by choice and not circumstances and this may make them even more depressed. They can also end up trying to isolate themselvesfrom you because they might feel you do not understand them.

4. Being Tough is Not the Best Way

Many times, people consider being tough on their loved onesso that it will bring them out of their depression, or it will inspire positive behavioral changes in them.An appropriate example of this can be giving deadlines or ultimatums (“You better stop this or I’m leaving you”).

5. Instead of dismissing it, understand their pain

If you try to tell them that they are getting worried or bothered about petty things, you may end up shamingthem. In a way it dismisses the pain they’re experiencing. This will only make things worse. They are not seeking validation of their condition, rather, they seek the company of a person who understands them and offers them warmth.

6. Don’t offer advices or make comparisons!

Although it make seems like a natural thing to do – give them some advice that will help in coming out of depression – but is not the best thing to do because by giving them advice, you are making them realise that they are not in control and may even feel insulted. When the person asks you for help on their own, then it is the right time to offer any word of advice – they are more likely to be guided and take advice without feeling insulted. Also, telling them that you know how a person with depression feels, unless you have actually been through one, is not helpful.It will only hamper the conversation and not help you in any way. Every person is different and thus, unless you know what they feel like, don’t compare their situation with someone else’s.

7. Learn more about Depression

One can refrain from the above missteps and avoid misunderstandings by learning more about depression. Once you understand what the symptoms of depression are, what is its course,and what are the consequences, you can support your loved one in a better way.There is an ebb and flow to depression symptoms which many non-depressed people may not understand.An individual who is feeling depressed may still laugh at jokes, may still seem cheerful, and seem to be having a great day – but this doesn’t mean that they are out of depression. The symptoms are a little to identify or notice, they’re usually lingering somewhere else, ormay be hidden.So it’s vital to know that depression is not a short term but a longer term problem that may not be cured by daily routines.

8. Patience Pays!

Patience is a crucial aspect of supporting someone with depression. By being patient with your loved ones, you’re expressing your love and care and sending out a message that it doesn’t matter how long it may take, you will be there with them. Patience is also important because depression is a long term condition and you need to be hanging-on throughout the term to be there for them. It is easy to get agitated and lose hope when you are not witnessing any improvement in the person with depression, but it is crucial to hang-on and be there patiently with them. They will notice how you are sticking with them and will urge them to get out of it. With patience, comes hope, and with hope, comes positivity!

Just remember – by being there and offering any form of help can be an incredible gift!