How to Love Someone With Depression
Even when you think you’ve read all about it, loving someone with depression will give you a whole new perspective. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/YehJawaaniHaiDeewani/photos_stream">Facebook/Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani</a>)
Even when you think you’ve read all about it, loving someone with depression will give you a whole new perspective. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani)

How to Love Someone With Depression

(Five out of ten leading causes of disability around the world are mental health issues. As part of a series of articles leading up to World Health Day on 7 April, The Quint is focusing on raising awareness and mobilising support.)

I’ve never had depression. But I have suffered anxiety (I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder years back, when I was a child). Today, it’s an occasional malady (if there even is such a thing) – and when it does rear its head, I handle it better, and safely stow it away in a box.

The thing with psychological illnesses is that they don’t always completely go away. They re-emerge when you least expect them, and must again be fought – with compassion, empathy and often, medication.

People often argue that most of us don’t know enough about it. That there isn’t enough awareness.

But suppose you are aware and have read all there is to be read and think you’re well-equipped…

Are you ever truly equipped to deal with someone you love who has depression?

Perhaps you are currently in love – madly, passionately in love – with a person who, apart from everything else about them that is wonderful, also has depression. It doesn’t define them, but it is a part of them.

And you need to know just how to deal with your beloved.

The following pointers are equal parts my own experience and equal parts the product of conversations with friends who know what it’s like to be scrounging through that tunnel.

Perhaps they will help you...

‘Being Depressed’ and ‘Having Depression’ is NOT the Same Thing

Don’t think that being depressed for a day and actually having depression are the same thing. (Photo: iStock)
Don’t think that being depressed for a day and actually having depression are the same thing. (Photo: iStock)

I couldn’t stress this enough. I hope to God you’ve already read this part of the manual and know that it’s absolutely NOT okay to say: “You’re depressed? Aah, I’ve been through that. That last time when my cat died…” No. Just no. You can be as melancholic, as dejected as possible about something – even depressed – but being depressed and having a clinically diagnosed state of depression are two COMPLETELY different things. Don’t elevate their pain in any way. Educate yourself and know what you’re dealing with.

Don’t Use ‘Shoulds’

One of the worst things you could say to a depressed person is, “You should go out more.” (Photo: iStock)
One of the worst things you could say to a depressed person is, “You should go out more.” (Photo: iStock)

You know what the easiest word in the dictionary is when you’re dealing with mental illness? Should.

Here’s what you – or rather, an unaware person – would probably say to him/her: “You should get over this”, “You should go out more”, “You should stop crying”… How about me rejoining with – you should stop being so insensitive? A friend who battled depression has this to say:

...Never make statements like ‘you have such an erratic nature’ or ‘I don’t know how to deal with your mood swings’. The one with depression already knows that he/she is being unpredictable. It’s the toughest feeling to live with, when you yourself cannot understand why you would be drowned in a bout of tears after an exhilarating day of retail therapy.

Remind Them of How Awesome They Are

They have enough to deal with already: the crying, the mood swings they can’t explain, the constant feeling of wretchedness.

At the lowest point during my anxiety, I gave in to blaming myself for everything that wasn’t my fault. I figured I was being a burden on people (no matter how close) who would be much better off without me.

Sure, no two people are alike – nor no two illnesses. But if there’s one thing that’s common – it’s that they need your unsolicited adoration. If they tell you they’re a failure, say this instead: “Are you nuts? Look at all you’ve accomplished” (*insert list of commendable stuff they’ve done*). When they think they’re unlovable, hold them and say, simply:

“You’re not unlovable. I love you.”

Engage Them in Fun Activities

Bring fun TO them. (Photo: iStock)
Bring fun TO them. (Photo: iStock)

Does this sound contrary to what we’ve just said? Let me explain. Yes, a depressed person will find it difficult to go out whenever you want them to. You might find them cancelling dinner plans, a concert you badly wanted to go to or that family luncheon. Don’t fight with them – understand.

At the same time, don’t be bewildered when they – seemingly erratically – want to go out or talk to you at odd hours. If you truly love them, you’re already there for them, but here’s something else you can do – bring that fun TO them. As my friend with depression tells me,

...My fiance took me out, played chess with me, praised me for my achievements and showed me how special I was. I think each one of us needs to be reminded of that.

Take Care of Yourself

You need to do this. Period. Yes, your beloved needs you and you want nothing more than to be there. But sometimes, don’t feel guilty about making other plans – think about this: when they’re feeling much better, wouldn’t they feel guilty about having curbed your other instincts?

Also? Don’t shy away from talking about yourself and your achievements to them – trust me on this: they want to know. Your relationship does not rotate solely on the axis that is your loved one’s depression – there is so much more to life, and if you don’t show it to them, who will?

Also Read: How do you Deal with Depression in Your 20s?

(This article was first published on 12 January 2016. It is being reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark World Health Day on 7 April 2017.)

(Five out of ten leading causes of disability around the world are mental health issues. As part of a series of articles leading up to World Health Day on 7 April, The Quint is focusing on raising awareness and mobilising support.)

I’ve never had depression. But I have suffered anxiety (I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder years back, when I was a child). Today, it’s an occasional malady (if there even is such a thing) – and when it does rear its head, I handle it better, and safely stow it away in a box.

The thing with psychological illnesses is that they don’t always completely go away. They re-emerge when you least expect them, and must again be fought – with compassion, empathy and often, medication.

People often argue that most of us don’t know enough about it. That there isn’t enough awareness.

But suppose you are aware and have read all there is to be read and think you’re well-equipped…

Are you ever truly equipped to deal with someone you love who has depression?

Perhaps you are currently in love – madly, passionately in love – with a person who, apart from everything else about them that is wonderful, also has depression. It doesn’t define them, but it is a part of them.

And you need to know just how to deal with your beloved.

The following pointers are equal parts my own experience and equal parts the product of conversations with friends who know what it’s like to be scrounging through that tunnel.

Perhaps they will help you...

‘Being Depressed’ and ‘Having Depression’ is NOT the Same Thing

Don’t think that being depressed for a day and actually having depression are the same thing. (Photo: iStock)
Don’t think that being depressed for a day and actually having depression are the same thing. (Photo: iStock)

I couldn’t stress this enough. I hope to God you’ve already read this part of the manual and know that it’s absolutely NOT okay to say: “You’re depressed? Aah, I’ve been through that. That last time when my cat died…” No. Just no. You can be as melancholic, as dejected as possible about something – even depressed – but being depressed and having a clinically diagnosed state of depression are two COMPLETELY different things. Don’t elevate their pain in any way. Educate yourself and know what you’re dealing with.

Don’t Use ‘Shoulds’

One of the worst things you could say to a depressed person is, “You should go out more.” (Photo: iStock)
One of the worst things you could say to a depressed person is, “You should go out more.” (Photo: iStock)

You know what the easiest word in the dictionary is when you’re dealing with mental illness? Should.

Here’s what you – or rather, an unaware person – would probably say to him/her: “You should get over this”, “You should go out more”, “You should stop crying”… How about me rejoining with – you should stop being so insensitive? A friend who battled depression has this to say:

...Never make statements like ‘you have such an erratic nature’ or ‘I don’t know how to deal with your mood swings’. The one with depression already knows that he/she is being unpredictable. It’s the toughest feeling to live with, when you yourself cannot understand why you would be drowned in a bout of tears after an exhilarating day of retail therapy.

Remind Them of How Awesome They Are

They have enough to deal with already: the crying, the mood swings they can’t explain, the constant feeling of wretchedness.

At the lowest point during my anxiety, I gave in to blaming myself for everything that wasn’t my fault. I figured I was being a burden on people (no matter how close) who would be much better off without me.

Sure, no two people are alike – nor no two illnesses. But if there’s one thing that’s common – it’s that they need your unsolicited adoration. If they tell you they’re a failure, say this instead: “Are you nuts? Look at all you’ve accomplished” (*insert list of commendable stuff they’ve done*). When they think they’re unlovable, hold them and say, simply:

“You’re not unlovable. I love you.”

Engage Them in Fun Activities

Bring fun TO them. (Photo: iStock)
Bring fun TO them. (Photo: iStock)

Does this sound contrary to what we’ve just said? Let me explain. Yes, a depressed person will find it difficult to go out whenever you want them to. You might find them cancelling dinner plans, a concert you badly wanted to go to or that family luncheon. Don’t fight with them – understand.

At the same time, don’t be bewildered when they – seemingly erratically – want to go out or talk to you at odd hours. If you truly love them, you’re already there for them, but here’s something else you can do – bring that fun TO them. As my friend with depression tells me,

...My fiance took me out, played chess with me, praised me for my achievements and showed me how special I was. I think each one of us needs to be reminded of that.

Take Care of Yourself

You need to do this. Period. Yes, your beloved needs you and you want nothing more than to be there. But sometimes, don’t feel guilty about making other plans – think about this: when they’re feeling much better, wouldn’t they feel guilty about having curbed your other instincts?

Also? Don’t shy away from talking about yourself and your achievements to them – trust me on this: they want to know. Your relationship does not rotate solely on the axis that is your loved one’s depression – there is so much more to life, and if you don’t show it to them, who will?

Also Read: How do you Deal with Depression in Your 20s?

(This article was first published on 12 January 2016. It is being reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark World Health Day on 7 April 2017.)

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