8 Ways You Can Help Your Loved Ones Who Are Depressed or Anxious
When you love someone who is struggling with depression or anxiety, it can be challenging to know how best to support them. These conditions are often misunderstood, and many people feel awkward about discussing them openly. But the reality is that millions of people deal with depression or anxiety at some point in their lives. Thankfully, there are many positive ways you can help your loved one through this difficult time. Supporting a friend or family member who is struggling with depression or anxiety requires you to be empathetic and willing to listen without judgment. It also requires constant reassurance that they will get through this dark moment and come out as the stronger person on the other side.
Here are eight ways you can help
Whether your loved one suffers from clinical depression, social anxiety, general anxiety disorder, panic attacks or something else entirely, having the right support network can make all the difference in helping them recover sooner rather than later.
1. Be patient and listen without judgment
When someone you love is struggling with depression or anxiety, they’re probably not feeling very confident in themselves or what they’re going through. They may be experiencing a deep-seated fear that they’re broken beyond repair and don’t deserve the love and support of others.
But we know this isn't the case
This is why it’s important to be patient and listen without judgment. Let your loved one know that you’re there for them, but that you understand that it might take some time for them to open up about their struggles. Avoid trying to solve the problem for them, as this can make them feel that you think they’re incapable of handling it themselves. Instead, let them know that you’re there to listen whenever they’re ready to talk.
2. Resist the urge to fix-it
When someone you love is struggling with anxiety or depression, you may want to go straight into fix-it mode, but this is not the way to go for a few reasons. First of all, you don't know anything about their situation or feelings yet. Secondly, you are probably not the expert to be helping them through this period in their life yet. and thirdly, your loved one shouldn't be made to feel like they need fixing, and going in gun-hoe with trying to fix the situation will make them feel like you think they need fixing.
Instead do this
First, listen and understand their situation. Second, do some research into how you can help their situation (below are many more examples). Third, be the support they need, try to be patient and be the person they need you to be.
3. Encourage them to join a support group
One of the best ways to help your loved one see that they’re not alone in their struggles is by encouraging them to join a support group. You can even start your own support group if you’re worried that they won’t find one in their area. Support groups can be incredibly helpful because they allow people to talk about their anxiety or depression with others who are going through the same thing. For many people, the feeling of being understood can be the first step towards feeling empowered to make real changes in their lives.
4. Help them re-establish routines
One of the biggest changes that comes with anxiety or depression is a disruption in daily routines and a loss of confidence in one’s ability to maintain control over their lives.
The struggles of anxiety
For example, someone with social anxiety might have once loved to host dinner parties for their friends. But once their anxiety kicks in, they may avoid these social situations entirely. They might even feel too embarrassed to admit to their friends that they’re struggling with anxiety.
The struggles of depression
With depression, routines might be more internal. Someone with depression may procrastinate on their work, lose their appetite and withdraw from friends and family members.
re-establishing is key
No matter what type of depression or anxiety your loved one is experiencing, re-establishing routines can be one way to help bring them back to a place of confidence and strength. You can help your loved one with this by offering as much consistency as possible. You can also encourage them to set reasonable expectations for themselves.
5. Make healthy food easily accessible
Healthy eating is important for everyone, but it’s even more crucial when you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety or depression. Healthy eating can provide several benefits for people with anxiety and depression. It can help you regulate your emotions, control your mood, balance your energy levels and boost your immune system.
Energy and motivation Lapse
For people suffering from anxiety and depression, eating healthy can be a challenge if their lack of energy makes cooking difficult. It can also be hard to find the motivation to plan out meals when you’re constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed. For these reasons, it’s important that you make healthy food easily accessible for your loved one if they’re in an anxious or depressed state.
Examples you can provide
For example, if your loved one struggles with depression and likes eating oatmeal, buy a bunch of oatmeal and put it in easy-to-access containers in the kitchen. Make sure you put them in spots where they’re visible and easy to grab without adding any extra effort. Another way to help is with cooking meals for your loved one so all they have to do is heat up a portion.
6. Provide a space where they can just be themselves
Anxiety and depression often make people feel like they can’t be themselves. They may avoid being social and feel pressure to “perform” in certain situations. Some people also experience triggers that cause their depression and anxiety to come back in full force. Regardless of what type of depression or anxiety your loved one is experiencing, it can be helpful to create a space where they can just be themselves. This could mean taking them out of situations that cause them stress. You could also take them to their favourite place on a semi-regular basis. It could also be wrapping them in a blanket and watching their favourite movie.
7. Educate yourself about depression and anxiety
When someone you love is struggling with depression or anxiety, it can be easy to assume that you know exactly what they’re going through. But the truth is that not everyone experiences these conditions the same way. This isn’t to say that you should avoid talking to your loved one about their struggles. In fact, it’s important that you let them know that you understand they’re going through something difficult and you want to be there for them. However, you should also educate yourself on the different types of depression and anxiety so you can respond in an informed and empathetic way.
8. Offer support for recovery and relapse prevention strategies
Depression and anxiety are often recurrent illnesses. Studies show that many people may experience these conditions on and off throughout their lives, especially if they don’t get proper treatment. If your loved one is facing depression or anxiety, it’s important that you offer support for their recovery strategies. This might include helping them set up therapy sessions or seeing a counsellor. You can also help your loved one prepare for the possibility of future episodes of depression or anxiety. You can do this by introducing them to support groups and online communities where they can talk to other people who are going through similar things.
9. Show them you care with small gestures
While you can offer a lot of support to your loved one, it’s also important that you let them know that you care. This can be done through a variety of small gestures. For example, you can make them a meal, offer to walk their dog or go for a walk with them. You can also encourage your loved one to practice self-care. This could mean taking time for meditation, journaling or getting enough sleep.
And who doesn't love a freebie? 10. Don’t be afraid to ask how you can help
If you’re worried about saying the wrong thing to your loved one, you can always ask them how you can help. You can ask them what they need from you during this difficult time. This can help you better understand what they’re going through and let them know that you want to be there for them. You don’t want to smother them, but you also don’t want to be afraid to ask how you can help. You want to make sure that they know you care and that you’re there for them no matter what. If you’re unsure of what to do, ask them
Thanks for reading! I hope these tips help you to build confidence and love yourself. If you have any other tips that have helped you, please share them in the comments below