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Depression Health Center

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Depression: Asking Loved Ones for Help

WebMD explains how family and friends can help you deal with depression.

Depression: How to Approach Family and Friends continued...

You may not want or be able to go into a lengthy discussion with them about what major depression is, but Davis recommends that you don’t sugarcoat it either. “If you have severe depression, tell them,” he says.

You might tell the person that you probably won't feel like talking much or doing any of the activities you used to enjoy, but that their support is comforting. If you feel like going for a walk or seeing a funny movie, ask them to go with you but not to push you to do more.

A very important note: If you are feeling suicidal, it’s not the time to be secretive. Call 911 or go to an emergency room or call a suicide hotline. Your call will remain confidential, and the people on the other end of the line are well trained.

Depression: How Family and Loved Ones May Respond

When you tell a family member that you have depression, the person may not know how to react. Be prepared for a range of emotions, from confusion to anger to denial.

If the loved one says something along the lines of “it’s all in your head,” or “why don’t you just snap out of it,” (treatment can take weeks to kick in), Amador suggests that you say, “I’d be the first person to snap out of this if I could,” and “I’m going to be better soon, but please try to be patient.” Later, when you’re feeling better, you can provide more details or help to educate the loved one about major depression.

A loved one is likely to suggest various “home remedies” to help you, such as going out for a drink, or using “tough love,” Amador says. “It’s important to ask your loved ones not to pressure you.” Although it’s obvious that alcohol won’t help your depression and is, in fact, a depressant, “tough love rarely works with depression and can be damaging,” he says. Still, it’s good to give a friend or loved one a sense of hope about the illness. “Tell them you are taking steps to get better,” he says.

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