“And now my life seeps away. Depression haunts my days.” Job 30:16 (NLT)
One of the hardest things to do is watch a loved one who is exhibiting signs of depression. You know something is wrong, but you don’t know what it is. You try to remember if they told you about any situations or relationships that may have caused the issue, but you can’t come up with anything. It’s hard to know what to do or what to say. You don’t want to say the wrong thing, but you don’t always know what the right thing is either. This is especially true if they either don’t acknowledge it or don’t want to talk about it. Sometimes our loved ones do acknowledge it and push us away.
So, what are some good ways to respond to a person with depression?
1. Ask if they want to talk about it.
Start by asking your loved one if they want to talk about it. If they say “No.” then let it rest. They may get agitated or defensive but don’t take it personally. Giving them some space will be the best thing for them and eventually, they may come and talk to you. If they do choose to talk to you, sit down with them and give them your undivided attention. Look them in the eyes so they know that you are listening to every word they say.
2. Tell them they are not alone.
Let your loved one know that they are not alone. Depression can be isolating and many people feel they have to handle it on their own. They feel like others will not understand or make light of their situation. By telling them they are not alone, it lets them know that they have your support.
3. Ask if they would like a hug.
Sometimes hugs are like a balm to the soul. They have healing powers that words sometimes don’t. The simplest act of physical touch-hugs, hand holding, etc can make a world of difference and enhance your loved one’s security in their relationship with you. Don’t underestimate the power of something so simple.
4. Don’t ask why.
I know this sounds counterintuitive, but here is why I say this. I have a friend who suffers from depression. One of the things he appreciates most about me is that I never ask why he is depressed. I never push or ask a lot of questions. I let him know that I am sorry he is feeling this way and that I am here for him when he needs me. If he chooses, he can come to me and explain why he is feeling the way he is. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t. And that is okay. However, not asking why keeps the lines of our communication open.
5. Remind them that they have worth and value.
Remind your loved one of their worth and how much not only you love them but Jesus loves them as well. Remind them that you see more than the depression they are going through, you see them as Jesus does, for we have great worth to him. Let your loved one know how valuable they are to you, those around them, and Jesus. Let them know the ways they bring value to the world and to the relationships around them. Tell them they are priceless.
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold … but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
(And if God was willing to pay the highest price in the universe to redeem them, then they are truly of infinite value.)
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