If you aren’t sure how to cope when a loved one is depressed, suicidal, or manic, it may be time to learn.
The number of people reporting depression symptoms shot up when the pandemic began, with a recent study suggesting depression tripled among Americans this past spring. The greater burden fell on people with fewer resources, socially and economically, and more exposure to stressful situations, such as job loss. Ongoing surveys are finding that 25% of respondents still report feeling depressed every day.
These kinds of struggles are heart-wrenching to witness. The following suggestions can help you both.
Ways to help care for a loved one in distress
- Encourage your loved one to get treatment and stick with it. Ask if you can help arrange an in-person or telehealth appointment with a therapist. Gently remind your loved one about taking medication or keeping therapy appointments.
- Don’t ignore comments about suicide. If you believe your loved one is suicidal, call the person’s doctor or therapist. Mental health professionals can’t divulge patient information without permission, but it is not a violation of confidentiality for the professional to listen to you. In urgent situations, bring your loved one to a local ER or call a local or national crisis hotline for advice. You can also try a suicide prevention text hotline. For example, you can contact the hotline provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness by texting “NAMI” to 741741.
- Offer emotional support. Your patience and love can make a huge difference. Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. Try not to brush off or judge the other person’s feelings, but do offer hope. Suggest activities that you can do together, and keep in mind that it takes time to get better. Don’t worry if you don’t know what to