Depression: How to help a loved one

Anna Chandy is the first supervising and training transactional analyst in Asia, who counselled Deepika Padukone through depression. She's also chairperson of Padukone's Live Love Laugh Foundation. Today she launches her book Battles in the Mind, her own story about dealing with abuse and emotional pain. Unlike other books that are merely theoretical in nature, Chandy's book is engaging, raw, personal, and thoroughly readable. 

Read on as she talks about what to do if a loved one is suffering from depression. 

Let us first understand the context when the term “depression” is used. In day-to-day parlance “feeling depressed” is a way we communicate to share that we are hurt, disappointed or upset with someone or with regard to an issue. Depression as an illness is clinical depression which is far more complex than just feeling sad or disappointed.

When you observe a loved one feeling sad, hurt or upset, an enquiry regarding the cause of the feeling is helpful. They may wish to share what is happening to them. Sharing also enables them to acknowledge that they are disappointed, etc. If the feelings, particularly of apathy and doom, persist for over a fortnight, and are accompanied by other physical symptoms, it is important that they seek professional support ASAP for an assessment and required support.

Giving advice is a “No-No,” as advice is given from the context and frame of reference of the person who is giving advice. It is far healthier and beneficial if the individual who is feeling depressed seeks professional help as the professional will facilitate the process to help them to find their own unique meaning to the situation and problem-solve accordingly. 

If an individual has been diagnosed with “clinical depression“, then they will require medication and therapeutic counselling. The therapeutic counselling will help them identify triggers that cause stress. It will also help them recover and heal slowly. The medication will be tailored according to their individual requirement.

If individuals have a tendency to harm themselves, it is important to empathise with them. Self-harm is the way individuals try to feel physical pain in the same way that they are experiencing psychological pain. Constant assurance that they are worthy and life will be better is also important, and this needs to be communicated to them.

Empathy is most valuable and important to individuals who are suffering from depression. 

Finger image: Shutterstock