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Loved Ones and Depression

Clip Number: 11 of 12
Presentation: Depression
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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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People often have many questions when dealing with depression in a friend or loved one. You might wonder what you should do if you suspect a loved one is suffering from depression or how you can help during treatment.
The first thing to do is get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan.
This may involve making an appointment for your loved one and going with them to the doctor.
It may also mean providing encouragement to:
* Stay with treatment until the symptoms of depression begin to go away, as this can take several weeks
* Seek different treatment if no improvement occurs
* Obey the doctor's orders about the limitation or restriction of alcoholic products while on medication.
Helping a loved one with depression may also mean monitoring whether he or she is taking their medication.
The second thing you can do is give emotional support.
* Try to engage the depressed person in conversation, and listen carefully. Do not disparage the feelings he or she may express, but do point out realities and offer hope.
* Do not ignore remarks about suicide -- report them to the depressed person's therapist or healthcare provider.
* Invite your loved one for walks, to lunch or the movies, and to other activities. Be gently insistent if your invitation is refused. Encourage participation in activities that were once pleasurable to him or her. However, do not push your loved one to undertake too much too soon. Depressed individuals need diversion and company, but too many demands can increase feelings of failure.
Finally, do not accuse your friend or loved one of faking illness or of laziness. Also, don't expect or encourage him or her "to snap out of it." Remember, eventually, with treatment, most people do get better. Keep that in mind, and reassure your loved one that, with time and help, he or she will feel better, too.

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