How to support a loved one struggling with depression - Christian Family Solutions

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by Sarah Reik, LPC, CFS Member Assistance Program Manager

When someone we care about is battling depression, it can be difficult to know how to help. The first step often involves initiating a conversation, but finding the right words and actions can feel daunting. However, offering support and love can make a world of difference to someone navigating the darkness of depression.

Start the Conversation

Bringing up the topic of depression with a loved one requires sensitivity and empathy. Here are some gentle ways to initiate the conversation:

  • Express Concern: Begin by expressing your worry in a caring manner. Phrases like “I have been feeling concerned about you lately” open the door for honest dialogue.
  • Acknowledge Observations: If you’ve noticed changes in your loved one’s behavior, gently share your observations. Saying, “I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing,” shows that you’re paying attention and genuinely care.
  • Offer Support: Let your loved one know that you’re there for them during this challenging time. Saying, “I wanted to check in with you because you have seemed pretty down lately,” conveys your willingness to listen and provide support.

Offer Encouragement and Hope

Words of encouragement can provide solace and strength to someone battling depression. Here are some uplifting phrases you can share:

  • You Are Not Alone: Assure your loved one that they are not alone in their struggles. Saying, “You are not alone in this. God is with you, and I am here for you,” reinforces the idea of companionship and support.
  • Express Care and Understanding: While you may not fully comprehend their experience, expressing empathy is crucial. Saying, “I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help,” validates their emotions and shows your willingness to assist.
  • Affirm Their Value: Remind your loved one of their importance in your life. Saying, “You are important to me. Your life is important to me,” underscores their worth and significance in your eyes.
  • Offer Assistance: Extend a helping hand and ask how you can support them. Saying, “Tell me what I can do now to help you,” empowers your loved one to express their needs and allows you to offer tangible support.

Take Action Together

Beyond words, taking concrete actions can demonstrate your commitment to supporting your loved one through their depression. Here are some proactive steps you can take:

  • Support Treatment: Assist your loved one in accessing professional help by researching counseling options and aiding with scheduling appointments. (To meet with a Christian Family Solutions counselor, you can use our online appointment request form or call us at 800-438-1772.) Offer to accompany them to appointments or provide transportation if needed.
  • Provide Practical Assistance: Help with everyday tasks that may feel overwhelming to someone struggling with depression. Even small gestures like assisting with household chores can make a significant difference.
  • Lead by Example: Prioritize your own mental health and well-being as a way to set a positive example. Taking care of yourself not only benefits you but also shows your loved one the importance of self-care.
  • Encourage Activity: Encourage physical activity as a means of improving mood and overall well-being. Invite your loved one to join you for a walk or accompany you on errands to provide gentle encouragement to stay active.
  • Pray Together: Offer to pray for and with your loved one, asking God for peace, comfort, and hope during this difficult time.

Supporting a loved one through depression requires compassion, patience, and understanding. By initiating open conversations, offering words of encouragement, and taking proactive steps to support their well-being, you can make a meaningful difference in their journey toward healing and recovery. Remember, your presence and support can be a beacon of light in their darkest moments.

 

Excerpts previously published with an article for Forward in Christ Magazine in March 2024. "My Christian life: I have depression, but Jesus has me"

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