It’s difficult to watch someone you love deal with clinical depression, but odds are most of us will know someone in this situation.
Nearly one in eight Canadian adults meet the criteria for a mood disorder like clinical depression at least once during their lifetime, according to Statistics Canada.
And to an outside observer, depression can be very frustrating. If you aren’t the person experiencing this mental illness, it can be very hard to understand why someone has no motivation or struggles with seemingly simple tasks. But when you are depressed, even getting out of bed can seem impossible.
So how can you help someone in need? "Obviously there are a lot of variables, especially depending on how severe the depression is, but the first thing that comes to mind is to simply be there,” says Timothy Gunn, a licensed clinical psychologist based in California.
Most of all, try to accept that you can’t solve or erase someone’s depression for them, as much as you might want to. “Don’t try to fix the person,” says counsellor and public speaker Heidi Hanna. “Just make sure they know they’re not alone, and that you’re willing to help them in any way that feels comfortable to them, even if that means giving them space for a while."
Here are 12 practical ways to support a friend or loved one with depression. And if you feel that someone who is depressed is considering self harm or suicide, seek help from a mental health professional or police immediately.