Caring for a depressed person can be an overwhelming and frustrating experience. It can also be emotionally draining and lonely. Emotions can be contagious and often there is a risk of you becoming depressed yourself.
You’re Important, Too
When it comes to supporting someone you care about who is suffering from a mental health issue or crisis it is important to recall the “Oxygen Mask Metaphor”. When we fly we are always reminded to place the oxygen mask over our own mouth and nose before assisting others, including children. While this can be counterintuitive – if we don’t make putting our own mask on first it is very likely we will not be able to help anyone. The upshot is that you need to be aware of and take care of your own needs, before you can be a solid support to anyone else.
So, What Can I Do to Help Them?
It may be useful to obtain information and resources that provides both mental, physical and emotional support.
Excellent resources are available on the Beyond Blue and Centre for Clinical Interventions websites.
Counselling can be a supportive environment where your loved one (and / or yourself) can begin to understand depression and develop strategies than can assist in reducing the symptoms of depression and improving quality of life.
The most important thing to remember is that depression and other mental health challenges can be as debilitating as physical conditions with a lot more social stigma. People can feel ashamed of having a mental health concern and as a result may have difficulty admitting to a problem or actively seeking help. Don’t underestimate the positive impact you can have by remaining non-judgemental.
Contact Life Line on 13 11 14 to talk to someone if you have immediate concern about a loved one. Alternatively, you can take them to your nearest emergency hospital at any time or call 000 for an ambulance.