04/08/2014 06:16 EDT | Updated 06/08/2014 05:59 EDT

How To Stay Sane When Someone You Love Is Depressed

Your loved one is depressed and it is starting to affect your emotional well being. You might feel like your relationship is falling apart or that you're being ignored. Worse, you might be starting to feel resentful or angry. How can you enjoy life when your loved one is depressed?

The first tip is remember that your loved one is depressed. Depression is an illness, a darkness of anguish and despair tightening around the soul. It's not about you so don't let your ego get in the way. Understand what depression is and educate yourself on how to talk to or deal with someone who is depressed.

Be compassionate and understanding. A depressed person needs acknowledgment, empathy and love. Say things like, "How can I help you? I'm here if you want to talk. I love you. Look forward, past your current pain, and see it won't always be this way." Don't say you know what the person is going through. That will only irritate your loved one because as we all know, depression is an uniquely personalized experience. Even if you have been or are depressed and feel empathy, openly acknowledge to your loved one that his/her experience is different from your own.

Don't despair. Somedays you might feel like you're not making any difference in helping your loved one. That's only fatigue. Your loved one feels your love and is very much aware of your support in the darkness of depression. You might be the only reason your loved one keeps battling depression.

Don't go for the drama. Nothing gets accomplished if you are angry or resentful with the depressed person. It's difficult being calm and supportive with someone who seems to be full of negative emotions. Don't get frustrated when your advice goes unheeded or is met with resistance. Don't get angry that your loved one seems to have forgotten how to smile or reciprocate love. Direct your anger or frustration at the illness, not at the person.

Encourage your loved one to get professional help and be ready to go with him/her to any appointments.In recent years cognitive behaviour therapy is available via Skype. Ask if you can participate as part of a family therapy session. Be willing to adopt any changes that are suggested and make a genuine effort at making it work. You might also want to make your own appointment with a mental health professional or join a caregiver group to safely vent about your loved one and get professional advice on how to deal with your situation.

Take care of yourself. Love yourself. Know and set limits on what you can do. You might be your loved one's main support system. You need to stay healthy and happy. Exercise, get enough rest and eat well. Set aside some quality "me time" and enjoy it. It's no use watching a movie if your thoughts are on your situation. Get a massage, start a hobby, whatever makes you enjoy life.

Don't think that you are wasting your life by being with someone who is depressed. The person inherently is still who you loved before he/she became depressed. You might have to make a few changes and maybe what you consider to be one or two sacrifices. But it is so much better to have made those choices and helped the depressed person now than to look back in your future and say, "If only I had done this or that, my loved one would still be alive."


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