Seeing Your Loved ones through Depression: The 10 point checklist

According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 350 million people all over the world with depression. It’s a staggering and sobering statistic, which should tell you that there is a strong likelihood that someone you know and love will be suffering from depression.

As psychologists, we understand it is crucial to bring awareness to one of the most devastating aspects of dealing with depression; the stigma and negative criticism that comes from others. Furthermore, people may not even know that their behaviors and comments are being negative or hurtful and sometimes even make the depression feel worse.

To help, we have put together a 10 point checklist of things we can remember when interacting with those that may be having a attle with depression. Any one of these points will not only help with the stigma surrounding depression, but may even help the individual dealing with depression.

1.  Don’t tell them to “Pull themselves together” or “Cheer up.”

  • Try not to blame the person for being depressed, or tell them to ‘pull themselves together’. They are probably already blaming themselves, and criticism is likely to make them feel even worse. Depression is not something anyone should feel guilty about.

2.  Don’t take it personally if they get irritable.

  • Someone with depression may get irritable and angry, and be more liable to misunderstand others, or feel misunderstood, than usual; they may need reassurance in some situations, and you may need to be patient with them.

3.  They may feel sad for no apparent reason, so just hang in there with them.

  • Moods can be volatile and depressive episodes can be unpredictable. If it was something that was easily controlled, it wouldn’t be such a big problem. Your loved ones are trying very, very hard to be happy, pleasant and engaging, and to facilitate this they need you to be there for them, present and accepting.

4.  Learn to spot their ‘triggers.’

  • Although depression can be unpredictable, if your loved one or relative has repeated episodes of depression you may be able to learn what their triggers are, or spot when an episode might be starting, and encourage them to take action before it gets any worse.

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Share this toolkit with someone you know who is dealing with depression.

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5.  They may not have as much energy as they would like to have.

  • One of the symptoms of depression is fatigue or lack of energy. One of the most helpful antidepressants that has been proven by research is exercise. It may seem counter-intuitive when you are feeling low on energy, but exercise will increase your energy levels and well-being. The type and duration of exercise can vary, but the minimum that could have an effect is to do fast walking at least three times a week for 30 minutes each time. That is the amount of exercise someone needs in order to feel an anti-depressive effect. So, if the sun is out and the breeze is whispering for you to come out and play, invite your loved one out for a walk or take an exercise class together! The body and mind of your loved one will soon synch up and they will begin to notice the benefits of exercise on their  mental health.

6.  They are Strong in Character.

  • In one of our favourite Tedx talks, psychiatrist and philosopher, Dr. Neel Burton explains that depression can represent a deeper search for meaning and significance in life. A person experiencing depression can be seen as working to make sense of life and trying to achieve more, fix more and improve more. Moreover, depression can be a way of preparing a better and even healthier future for ourselves and those around us. Dr. Burton goes on to mention that some of the most influential and inspirational people have dealt with depression. Their search for happiness and peace led their hearts and minds into the pit of depression, but they ended up changing the course of history.

7.  They do not want to burden anyone.

  • Only a depressed individual understands how hard it is to hide their feelings and thoughts from others to avoid being shamed. One characteristic of a person dealing with depression is that they are keenly aware of themselves, their thoughts, their feelings and the behavior of others towards them. Unfortunately, individuals fighting depression may push to be alone because they do not want to impact anyone negatively. Although this may not always be the case, depressed loved ones desire to manage their depression successfully and not allow it to impact on anyone. This can be a paradoxical situation because being alone can actually exacerbate the symptoms of depression. So it is important to understand how community and social interaction is a form of depession therapy. A person with depression will really appreciate you unexpectedly reaching out to them – it will feel as though if their calls are being answered.

8.  Encourage them to seek appropriate treatment.

  • Perhaps the most important thing that you can do is to encourage your friend or relative to seek appropriate treatment. You can reassure them that it is possible to do something to improve their situation, but you need to do so in a caring and sympathetic way.

9.  Beating depression is a process, not an event.

  • Remember that, even after someone has started treatment for depression, it still may be some time before they really start to feel better. Change doesn’t happen over night.

10.  Look after yourself.

  • Supporting a loved one or relative who is depressed can be hard work and frustrating, at times. Unless you pay attention to your own needs, it can make you feel depressed, too. View the experience as an opportunity to build a closer and more compassionate relationship. Helping someone you love through depression and to a happier place can be incredibly rewarding. It helps you to build up your own emotional resilience, making you feel more empowered in your own life and increasing your own sense of well-being and self esteem.

Access the Self-Esteem Booster Guide

Depression and low self esteem often go hand in hand. Learn about the 10 Tips to Increase Self-Esteem

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self esteem vs self compassion1

Self Esteem Vs Self Compassion

The pursuit of self esteem is perhaps one of the biggest movements of the last 50 years. From teachers to parents and popular culture, we have been taught that feeling good about yourself is a high priority. A huge self help industry has been built around the benefits of increasing self esteem. The self esteem movement bases its assumptions on the belief that high self esteem leads to positive outcomes, and low self esteem leads people to do things that are harmful and destructive. However recent research has laid bare the negative aspects of self esteem. It has led to us becoming more and more competitive, as our self worth is calculated by how better we are doing in relation to others.

Our culture has become so competitive we need to feel special and above average to just to feel okay about ourselves (being called “average” is an insult). Most people, therefore, feel compelled to create what psychologists call a “self-enhancement bias” – puffing ourselves up and putting others down so that we can feel superior in comparison.

Dr Kristen Neff

This constant need to feel better than those around us leads to a sense of isolation and separation. In addition our self esteem is dictated by our latest success or failure. However perhaps the most insidious consequence of the self esteem movement is the narcissism epidemic. Self-esteem has also been linked to aggression, prejudice and anger towards those who threaten our sense of self-worth. It’s the reason some people bully or put others down to build themselves up.

Self Esteem Vs Self Compassion

In contrast to self-esteem, self-compassion is not based on self-evaluations. People feel compassion for themselves because we all deserve compassion and understanding, not because they possess a trait or traits that are desirable. This means that with self-compassion, you are not dependent on feeling better than others to feel good about yourself.  Self-compassion also allows for greater self-clarity, because personal failings can be acknowledged with kindness and do not need to be hidden.It also involves mindfulness — the recognition and non-judgmental acceptance of painful emotions as they arise in the present moment.


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Moreover, self-compassion isn’t dependent on external circumstances, it’s always available – especially when you fall flat on your face!  Research indicates that in comparison to self-esteem, self-compassion is associated with greater emotional resilience, more accurate self-concepts, more caring relationship behavior, as well as less narcissism and reactive anger.

Although low self esteem is not something we want to suffer, and we always work at increasing our clients sense of self worth, our adoption of the self compassion approach has greatly improved client outcomes. We owe much of this to the hard work our clients put into their therapy, but also the fantastic work done by Dr Kristen Neff. We really recommend this TED Talk about self compassion which we have featured in our blog post on the psychological aspects of weight loss.

Also take a look at our self esteem booster guide which you can access below.

Access the Self-Esteem Booster Guide

Learn about the 10 Tips to Increase Self-Esteem

Click here to access