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5 ways to help your loved ones overcome depression
Every year, 19 million Americans experience depression of some variety and only half of those with people will seek professional treatment for it, according to Mental Health America. - photo by Shelby Slade
Every year, 19 million Americans experience depression of some variety, and only half of those with depression will seek professional treatment for it, according to Mental Health America, which can leave many struggling alone.

Cultivating friendships and having social interactions have been shown to help those seeking treatment for depression, Rick Nauert reported for Psych Central. Those that didn't join social groups and maintain these connections were 50 percent more likely to still be depressed a month later.

Living with depression is difficult, but it can also be hard on friends and family members because of the uncertainty and changes in behavior they see their loved ones experience.

Here are five ways to help those you love that are dealing with depression:

Learn about depression

Symptoms include a persistent sad or empty feeling, sleeping too much or too little, loss of interest in activities, irritability, thoughts of death or suicide, feelings of worthlessness and loss of energy, according to MHA.

By learning more about depression, you can better understand what your loved one is going through and how to help them.

Encourage them to seek treatment

It can be difficult to recognize when someone is depressed, and it is especially difficult for a depressed individual, Mayo Clinic reports. All too often, people feel ashamed about their depression and mistakenly believe they should be able to overcome it with willpower alone, it says on its site. But depression seldom gets better without treatment and may get worse.

If you have noticed signs or symptoms of depression in someone close to you, Mayo Clinic suggests talking about the things you have noticed, recommending they see a professional for help and reminding them that depression is an illness, rather than a weakness.

Be ready to listen without judgement

People with depression arent always going to want to talk about what they are feeling, but they need to know there are people they can talk to when they are ready to do so. The Depression Alliance suggests asking them questions like How are you today? Do you feel up to talking?

When your loved ones are ready to talk, dont judge them by what they may or may not share with you. Try to understand what theyre experiencing as an individual, rather than jumping in to rescue them, the Depression Alliance says. Having the space to talk, to be understood and just to be can be invaluable.

Help them with simple chores to show you care

Emily Reynolds, who runs a blog about living with depression, said it has been invaluable when friends have offered to help her, and then followed through, with simple tasks. Depression can make doing the simplest tasks seem impossible. Reynolds recommends making an avoided phone call for your loved one, taking out their trash or helping them with laundry or cleaning.

Be patient

Even after seeking treatment for depression, it can take a while for people to start to feel better and see improvements, the Mayo Clinic says. There will be days that are more difficult than others. These days require extra patience and care when you are helping or interacting with friends or family members facing depression.
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