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How do I help people with depression?

Interis

Registered Member
As someone who knows a few things about Korean entertainment, I was shocked to hear that an idol was found dead 2 days ago. It was later concluded that he killed himself out of depression. In his last death letter, he claimed that none of the treatments for his depression worked and he was really stressed.

A friend once was in a similar situation. She often talked about suicide. I once ran to her place in fear that she would end her life. I felt like I had tried everything, but it didn't reach her. I tried to listen, but I couldn't resist trying to say or do something. I tried to motivate her, but I was always rejected. I gave up after some time. We never talked about those dark feelings anymore, although we still talk to each other often. She's better now, but when I think about those days I feel like I should've pushed myself harder. I just didn't know how.

How do you think we can improve to help these people?
 

Impaired

Registered Member
Reach out to them, be there for them and mostly let them know they are not alone - it touches lots of people.
 

Pepper

Registered Member
I have been through a rough phase of my life when I was really depressed and anxious. Sometimes, I felt like having people around me, but most of the time, I just wanted to be left alone. I think it all depends on the person and your relationship with them.

But in general, like @Impaired said, just telling a depressed person that you are there for them and that they are not alone makes a world of difference. I speak from experience.
 

Keri35

Registered Member
I think just reaching out and letting the person know that you are there for them is the best thing you can do.

I've dealt with a few people that were depressed and it was tough.
 

Interis

Registered Member
I have been through a rough phase of my life when I was really depressed and anxious. Sometimes, I felt like having people around me, but most of the time, I just wanted to be left alone. I think it all depends on the person and your relationship with them.
This is what I was struggling with. Most of the times, my friend denied everything we said and refused to try anything. In other times, she complained about the same things over and over again when I also had other stuff to deal with. I had decided to just support her passively, but I couldn't let it slip when she started talking about suicide.

At some point, I thought about whether she really wanted me our help or not. That was very mean, I know, but that's why I'm asking. Maybe I approached her the wrong way or said the wrong things.
 

Bubbles

I ♥ Haters
As someone who was depressed and suicidal for the past two years, I can tell you first hand that all you can do is reach out and be supportive. That's it. With the right medication and supportive network, a person can treat their depression, but a lot of that depends on the patient. You can't force help on someone who doesn't want it.

When my mother tried to help me by taking me to the hospital's psychiatric clinic, I faked my way through the questions and was discharged a couple of hours later. Depressed people are really good at hiding their true feelings. Before my suicide attempt a couple of years ago, my family and closest friends had no idea what was going on with me.

Knowing what to say can really help but don't invalidate someone's feelings or tell them that suicide is selfish. I can guarantee you that that will NOT work. Don't say "it'll pass" because it won't. Depression is not a phase, it's a chemical imbalance in the brain that won't just go away. The best thing one of my friends ever said to me was "I'm here to help. I'm sorry you're going through this. What can I do to help you?"

Also, never ever say you "understand" what a depressed suicidal person is going through. Trust me, you don't. Instead say something like "I'm sorry I don't understand what you're going through better" and ensure that they know how much you love and care about them and that you are there for them. Honestly, you don't even have to say anything. Give them a hug, hold their hand and listen to them. Offer your compassion without judgement. Being in the presence of someone who makes them feel safe will make a huge difference.
 

Interis

Registered Member
@Bubbles Thank you very much for sharing. So it's true that I won't be able to help much unless the person wants to be helped. My problem was that I always wanted to do something because I couldn't simply listen to her saying all kinds of scary things. I was impatient because she didn't want to go see a doctor, not trying to solve what caused the problems, and ignored us when we tried to offer any solution.

If you don't mind me asking, in your case, what kind of things did your friends/family do that you find helpful other than staying by your side and be supportive?

Also, it seems like you have a support system you can trust. I hope that is true. :)
 

Bubbles

I ♥ Haters
If you don't mind me asking, in your case, what kind of things did your friends/family do that you find helpful other than staying by your side and be supportive?
Sure thing. I believe patience from those around me was instrumental in my recovery. My mom was incredibly patient with me, even when it seemed like things would never get better. She took a month off work to take care of me because she felt that by simply being near me, I would feel safe. The other person who helped me get through it was Wade (another user here who doesn't post often anymore.) He would sometimes stay on the phone with me until 3 am talking to me. He's probably the reason why I'm still here. I honestly don't know how everyone put up with me during that period but they never left my side. I think I was just lucky enough to have a good support network. Unfortunately, a lot people don't have that.

The other thing was that I decided to get help. My family and friends would constantly urge me to see a professional but I only did so when I was ready. That was the hardest part, I think. After a while, depression just kinda became a normal thing for me and it was really hard to get motivated. You just keep thinking "what's the point?" But eventually I started seeing a therapist, then a psychiatrist and then started a cycle of Prozac. Through therapy I learned how to cut out toxic people from my life and started making changes in order to be healthy - keeping a journal, keeping a daily planner, monthly psychiatrist visits, weekly therapy visits, eating better, meditating etc. That was probably the hardest part. I fell off the wagon a couple of times but eventually it just became a habit. The Prozac helped a lot as well. I know most people will generally shit on antidepressants but there's only so much a good diet and exercise can do to help someone with manic depression. For some people, antidepressants are needed to fix that chemical imbalance in your brain. I was one of the people who was terrified of taking Prozac because of the myths people spread about antidepressants. If anything, it's improved my quality of life vastly in the past year.

So, in my case, a good support system, a good psychiatrist, medication and a few lifestyle changes were needed to get out depression. To be fair, I still have bad days but I haven't thought about hurting myself in almost a year and a half.

I hope that helps and gives you some perspective. You're doing a great thing for someone by just being there for them. Good luck!
 

CaptainObvious

Embrace the Suck
V.I.P.
I'm really glad you got better, Bubbles, and thanks for all of this information.

I have a daughter who is going through something similar. She has some anxiety and depression, and to be honest, I have no idea how to handle it. I'm very hard nosed, I'm very matter of fact. From my perspective, happiness is a choice. The brain has natural chemicals, like Dopamine and Seratonin, and I believe if we choose to be happy, if we choose to see the bright side of things and not focus on negative things, these chemicals are released into our system and we are happy.

But I understand we are all wired differently. I understand not everyone is like I am, and I don't know how to help her. Granted, she isn't suicidal, but she does go through mood swings, which makes me think she may be bipolar. I've taken her to psychiatric clinic, and like you, she was out in a couple of hours. She knows what to say to get out of places like that, but I've seen her get extremely anxious in social situations.
 

Interis

Registered Member
@Bubbles Thank you very much for sharing. You're right that not everyone had that kind of support system. That's probably why mental illness is still very hard to battle. It's great that you finally found the motivation to get back on track. I started thinking about "what kind of thoughts you had when you decided to see a psychiatrist" or "did anything special happen that finally motivated you to try", but I think that's me trying to be overactive again. Everyone has a different pace and their own right time, so does my friend.

@CaptainObvious I can relate to your perspective because I also think like that. A friend once told me that it can be a dangerous protection barrier at times because it can also be translated that we are pulling ourselves away from the problem without solving it, impairing our daily lives. I don't say it to judge, but as food for thought.

That being said, have you ever tried talking to her directly? Or someone else with whom she can talk honestly comfortably if you think you are too different to understand?
 
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