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A Caregiver’s Mental Health By Niharika Nigam
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July 15, 2020
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Depression not only takes a toll on the person dealing with it but also the caregivers. It is important to understand that it isn’t easy, but a person needs to be strong, honest, and patient. It can be overwhelming for the family and friends too, and it’s okay to feel that way, here is how I dealt with the challenges I faced while taking care of my sister through her depression. Hope this helps people are looking to understand and support their family member or friend, who is depressed.

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What is Depression?

Depression is more than a difficult day. It’s a disorder that takes over a person’s thinking, beliefs, feelings, the outlook of the world, and their relations with others. From my personal experience, my sister has been dealing with it for a long time. There were days when she didn’t want to come out of the bed and feel dull and negative without any particular reason. Your role here is to calm her down and not ask too many questions. You have to be very careful with the words that you choose to say because, at times, what you say can also be a triggering point.

Recognizing Depression Symptoms in a loved one

Family and friends are often the first line of defense in the fight against depression. That’s why it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of depression. You may notice the problem in a depressed loved one before they do, and your influence and concern can motivate them to seek help.

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How to Talk to Someone About Depression

Sometimes it is hard to know what to say when speaking to someone about depression. You might fear that if you bring up your worries, the person will get angry, feel insulted, or ignore your concerns. You may be unsure of what questions to ask or how to be supportive.

If you don’t know where to start, the following suggestions may help. But remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. You don’t have to “fix” your friend or family member; you have to be a good listener. Often, the simple act of talking face to face can be an enormous help to someone suffering from depression. Encourage the depressed person to talk about their feelings, and be willing to listen without judgment.

Don’t expect a single conversation to be the end of it. Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again. Be gentle yet persistent.

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Patience is the key

You have to make them believe in themselves. Be as encouraging as you can.

There will always be this temptation to tell your loved one to “look on to the brighter side” or “think about something else.” But would you say that to a physically wounded person? Mental illness can be hard to understand what it is like unless you’ve experienced it yourself. It is demanding, and your loved ones need you. Without any cross-questioning you should listen to everything and every word that they want to vent out.

At times they will refuse to take medication by saying that “it is not showing results” or “I guess I have to live with it now,” but you have to keep pushing them.

Depression can wipe out the energy and increase the wish to self-isolate. On a dull day, when your loved one might not feel like leaving the house, you must encourage them and inspire them to go for therapy. Remind them of all the times when therapy made them feel better.

There will be a day when you will feel low or as if you are losing it all then you have to think about the bigger picture and the person you are doing it for.

When you care about someone who’s living with depression, it’s convincing to leave everything to be by their side and help them. It’s not wrong to want to support a friend, but it’s also very important to take care of your mental health.

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Encouraging the person to get help

While you can’t control someone else’s recovery from depression, you can start by encouraging the depressed person to seek help. Getting a person into treatment can be difficult. Depression takes energy and motivation, so even the act of making an appointment or finding a doctor can seem daunting to your loved one. It also involves negative ways of thinking. A person may believe that the situation is hopeless and treatment pointless because of these obstacles, getting your loved one to admit to the problem and helping them see that it can be solved is an essential step in the recovery.

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Taking Care of Yourself

Yes, taking care of your mental health is equally important. There’s a natural impulse to want to fix the problems of people we care about, but you can’t control someone else’s depression; of course, you can help them. But in the process, it is important that you don’t put your mental health on side, how well you take care of yourself, also impacts the person you are trying to help. It’s just as important for you to stay healthy as it is for the depressed person to get treatment, so make your own well-being a priority.

Remember, the advice given by flight attendants: put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. In other words, make sure your own health and happiness are solid before you try to help someone who is depressed. You won’t do your friend or family member any good if you collapse under the pressure of trying to help. When your own needs are taken care of, you’ll have the energy you need to lend a helping hand.

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