Monday, 1 August 2016

How to Help Someone Who Doesn't Think They're Depressed

red coffee cup

I’ve met a lot of people with Depression throughout my life; including members of my family, work colleagues, and friends at university. The vast majority of them were very aware of their problems - how could they not be? They knew they felt awful, or felt nothing at all, and they wanted so badly for that to change. There are plenty of articles on how to help people with Depression. If you’re reading this, the chances are you’ve already seen them.

However, I’ve never seen any kind of advice for helping someone who doesn’t think they have Depression… but who clearly has it.

Since being diagnosed with Depression in 2012 and coming to understand the illness a lot better, I can usually tell when someone else is showing the symptoms. Sometimes they tell me, sometimes they don’t. But sometimes I’ll come across someone who is suffering in ways I can recognise, but they’re refusing to acknowledge their emotions. 

Share your own mental health story

The chances are, if you’re able to recognise mental health problems in other people, it’s because you’ve experienced them yourself. Try and remember what happened before you were diagnosed - maybe you felt alone and confused. Tell them about that, and how much your life changed for the better once you realised there was something wrong and got help. Remind them that coming to terms with how you felt was how you started to get better. 

Point out the things that concern you

Back in 2012, I was spending a lot of time at home, and would most likely be in my pyjamas. I didn’t wash as often I used to. I wasn’t really eating meals, just binging on snacks. The person you’re concerned about may have stopped taking care of themselves, or have lost an interest in something they used to enjoy, or be pessimistic about their future. Whatever it is that you’re worried about, point it out to them.

Tell them that it’s ok to be taken care of

Maybe they think Depression is a sign of weakness, or perhaps they’re the sort of person who’s become accustomed to looking after other people - like a parent or a carer. But tell them that you’re there for them, and that you’ll look after them. Needing some time to process your own feelings is not selfish or weak. Some people might even think that they don’t have time to be Depressed, but remind them that taking some time off will be healthier in the long term.

Ultimately seeking help is their decision, and you can’t force someone to go to therapy. No matter how much you try to help someone their feelings are not your responsibility, all you can do is be supportive. I hope that in some way, this post has helped you, and will help the person you're concerned about. Good luck.

If someone says they want to end their life, take them to A&E immediately, as that’s the quickest way for them to be seen by a psychiatrist. I would also recommend phoning the mental health charity Mind, who have been incredibly helpful to me in the past.

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