How to Support a Loved One with Anxiety or Depression

How to Support a Loved One with Anxiety or Depression
08/10/2018

Anxiety and depression are serious health conditions. When someone we love suffers from them, we might not know how to help. Whether your loved one has just been diagnosed, is in the early stages or is recovering you can support them by communicating in a non-judgemental way and encouraging them to seek treatment.

Anxiety and depression: common causes

Anxiety is a natural feeling we have in response to perceived threats. However, an anxiety disorder goes beyond everyday anxiety. It’s intense and persistent. Someone with an anxiety disorder usually has an extreme sense of fear, panic, and worry.

Depression is associated with sadness and grief, which are normal emotions. But clinical depression is more than brief periods of sadness. People with clinical depression usually feel intense sadness and unhappiness that lasts for a long time.

Causes of anxiety and depression

Causes include personality traits and temperament. People without an easy-going temperament and good social and problem-solving skills might be more prone to anxiety and depression. Family conflict, lack of supervision by parents, unsupportive relationships and financial difficulties could also be causes. Major stresses, genetic susceptibility, and biological factors could also be contributing factors.

Techniques and methods for assisting people with anxiety and depression

It’s not easy to know the best way to help your loved one, but empathetic communication and showing you care can help you get started.

  1. Acknowledge there is a problem

Make it clear you understand there’s a problem and you’re here to help your loved one. Since mental health conditions often have a stigma attached to them, be open and non-judgemental. This can help your loved one feel less alone. Find a good time and place to have the first conversation.

 

  1. Use kind and supportive words

It’s natural to feel unsure how discuss a mental health condition. Try simple, genuine statements like, “I’m here for you”, “I can see this is a hard time for you” or “I’m not sure what to do, but I’m sure we can figure it out together.” Show you respect their privacy with, “this conversation is between you and me.”

If you say the wrong thing, follow up with, “I’m sorry if I said the wrong thing” and ask to start again. As they heal, check in with statements like, “I have noticed you seem to be doing better lately”, or “do you feel like doing something together to help take your mind off things?” Encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings openly with you so they don’t feel alone.

 

  1. Encourage them to seek treatment

Encourage your loved one to seek treatment. Options include entering a mental health program at a retreat, seeing a counsellor or going to the GP. Keep in mind people with anxiety and/or depression might not realise they need treatment. If he or she is resistant to the idea, gently suggest a visit to the GP for a standard checkup so it seem less threatening as an option.

If they’re still resistant to the idea, try highlighting the consequences and impact of their mental condition on themselves and everyone else around them. Also encourage them to make a list of symptoms and ailments so they can get the most out of their treatment program.

 

  1. Support their treatment process

When your loved one agrees to get help, let them know you’re with them every step of the way. You can support your loved one by going with them to their appointment or simply by listening without being judgemental. Have realistic expectations, and stay patient as they heal.

Encourage them to sleep, eat, and exercise appropriately, and highlight things like relaxation and self-help strategies to complement their treatment program. Pursuing something they enjoy, like a new hobby, could also be helpful.

 

  1. Managing setbacks

People with anxiety and depression disorders can experience setbacks or ups and downs. Keep this in mind, stay persistent with supporting your loved one and identify possible triggers so you can avoid them in the future. Remember to look after yourself first and foremost, take time-outs for yourself and set appropriate boundaries so you’re not overwhelmed.

 

Anxiety and depression can be serious mental health conditions, impacting your loved one and those around him or her. Communicating you’re there for your loved one in a nonjudgmental way and encouraging them to get help are great first steps. Once they agree to treatment, support them through the process. Stay hopeful and patient when you encounter setbacks, and you’ll have done a lot to help you loved one with healing.

If you or someone you know needs help with anxiety or depression, we invite you to speak with one of our trained consultants about tailoring a program best suited for your needs. Simply fill in our online enquiry form and we’ll get back to you or call us at Palladium Private on 1300 573 095. 

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