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  • Writer's pictureDr Wayne Bullock

Depression – Steps for helping loved ones in need

It is estimated that 20 million adults in America have had at least one major episode of depression. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression


It stands to reason that millions of Americans are in loving relationships with these partners that suffer from depression.


And, because we love them, we want to help them. But how?


Step One – Keep an eye out


The first step is to become more familiar with the ‘markers’ of depression. They include, but are not limited to:

· A loss of interest in normal everyday activities

· Changes in appetite and eating patterns

· Changes in sleep patterns and sleep quality

· Headaches and/or backaches that last across multiple weeks


If your loved one is experiencing any of the above for an extended period, they may be dealing with high levels of anxiety or depression.


Step Two – Try to learn more


The best way to learn more about what your partner is going through is to simply ask. The asking needs to be sincere, shows your concern, and ‘comes from a good place’.


Have a conversation about how they’ve been feeling. Ask if they are feeling any differently as of late. Ask about what might be affecting their feelings these days.


Know that it’s natural for someone to be defensive when being questioned. Don’t push; that rarely helps.


If you are meeting with resistance, you may want to offer up something similar to, “Would you mind if I shared what I’ve been noticing lately?”


Step Three – Suggest help


While we often want to directly help our loved ones, professional assistance is usually the best path.


Offer up whatever types of help your loved one may welcome. From making the day easier to helping locate someone to speak with, involve yourself in order to provide support and the gentlest of encouragement.


Step Four – Look out for yourself


Depression is contagious, in the sense that it is difficult to fully enjoy your life while others are struggling. It is important to continue to do things that you enjoy for the sake of your health and peace of mind.


Dr. Wayne Bullock is a Washington D.C. area therapist specializing in the needs of gay men, the LGBTQ community, and those dealing with anxiety, depression, and trauma.

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