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Beyond the Diagnosis: Living with a Person Who Struggles with Depression

Anger is an all-consuming emotion at times, even more so now as we deal with new situations. If you don't get a grip on it, it can affect your quality of life. Anger will damage your relationships and raise your stress levels. If anger is beginning to impact your life, start taking steps to control your emotional state.

Depression alters a person's brain chemistry. It affects their moods and emotions while influencing their thought processes. A person living with depression often struggles with feelings of emptiness. The also feel hopelessness and self-criticism.

You do not have to be depressed for depression to affect your life. Living with a person who is struggling with mental illness can be challenging at times. The symptoms of depression can put a strain on the healthiest relationships. They can also strengthen many relationships. when those involved face the challenges of this illness together. The following suggestions offer support for a friend or family member with depression.

Living With Another Person's Depression Affects You Too

It's not always easy to separate the moods or behaviors caused by depression. It is difficult to see the real personality of the person living with the disorder. Some days you will succeed, and some days coping with the effects of the disorder can steal your resolve. You may even find yourself dealing with one or more of the following:

• Feelings of worry that your actions have contributed
• Frustration over your inability to fix the problem
• Feeling overwhelmed or helpless against the disorder
• Feeling resentment that depression is interfering with your relationship
• Suppressing your feelings, fear of intensifying symptoms or making a depressed mood worse
• Feeling frustrated with your relationship, that your needs may be unmet
• Having days when you feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for someone who is ill

You may feel frustrated or even burdened on occasion. Those feelings are not unexpected, and there is no reason to feel ashamed, guilty or alarmed. Even professional caregivers can have an occasional bad day. Forgive yourself and move forward.

Consider the Benefits of Establishing Your Own Support Network

When a person is trying to overcome depression, it is natural for them to focus on their condition. It is likely that much of your attention is on their recovery as well.

It is not unusual for friends and family members of those living with depression to feel the need to mask their emotions. Many friends and family members suppress their anxieties and swallow their frustrations. They may fear making the depression worse. Wanting to avoid complicating matters is understandable. It's essential to remember that you may need a support system of your own. Consider some of the following suggestions:

 • Learn all you can about depressive disorders. Consult books or reputable online sources
• Enlist the help of a family member or friend to provide a safe person to vent your fears and frustrations
• Join a support group for family and friends of the clinically depressed
• Enlist the services of a counselor or therapist. They can help with your understanding of depression and how to cope with the effects. They can also help you understand the impact of depression on your relationships

Remember That You Also Need to Practice Self-Care

There is a lot of emphasis put on the self-care methods to assist those living with depression. Often, there is little advice offered to friends and family affected by this disorder. Many of the self-help strategies for overcoming the symptoms of depression also help those living with the effects. Consider the benefits of the following self-care suggestions:

• Maintain a healthy diet to boost your moods and emotions
• Take time to recharge by engaging in activities you find enjoyable
• Get an adequate amount of exercise and rest
• Remain involved with your social circles
• Keep a journal as an outlet for your thoughts and feelings
• Join a local support group or consult with  a counselor or therapist to help you cope with the changes in your life

Taking the time to care for your own needs is never selfish. Time to yourself, or in the company of family and friends, can help you recharge and regroup. You will be better equipped to be compassionate and supportive.

Lend Your Support to Benefit Recovery

Some living with depression become apathetic or withdrawn. Others lash out in anger or become irritable or anxious. In spite of the changes, it's important to try to maintain open communication.

It is important to remember that the problem is the illness, not the person. Do your best to offer support when you can. Some common suggestions to support a person living with depression include:

• Encouraging those with symptoms to seek treatment (counseling, medication, or both)
• Offering gentle reminders that healing can take time; you are in the process together
• Providing a ride or accompaniment to doctor appointments or counseling sessions
• Encouraging balanced meals and a healthy sleep schedule
• Encouraging the depressed person to revisit favorite hobbies or interests
• Offering reminders to ensure any medications get taken on schedule
• Gently encouraging exercise by offering to go on a walk or other physical activity
• Helping those living with depression to engage in social activities


Depression affects the moods, emotions, and behaviors of those living with the disorder. While the symptoms can be severe, depression is a treatable mental health disorder. Living with a person who is struggling with mental illness can be challenging at times. Many relationships grow stronger when the challenges of this illness are faced together. Providing support can help speed the recovery of a person living with depression.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with depression, we encourage you to schedule an appointment. You may do so online, contact us here or call our office at 480-235-1682.
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Sources:
nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml
psycom.net/living-with-someone-depressed/
psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-second-noble-truth/201412/living-depressed-loved-one
livescience.com/45568-tips-dealing-depression-spouse-partner.html
psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-second-noble-truth/201412/living-depressed-loved-one
webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-symptoms-causes#2
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2748674/
psychcentral.com/blog/9-best-ways-to-support-someone-with-depression/

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