When someone close to you is experiencing depression, it can have a significant impact on your life. It can be hard to work out the best way to support them and look after yourself at the same time. They may find small tasks overwhelming and you might find yourself having to be more emotionally available.
Signs of depression
If someone close to you is experiencing depression, they might start showing some of the following signs:
- a low mood
- negative thoughts
- loss of interest in activities they usually enjoy
- weight gain or weight loss
- sleeping too much or too little
What might you be experiencing?
If someone close to you is experiencing depression, you might be feeling some of the following emotions:
- helplessness –if there doesn’t seem to be a solution to their depression
- guilt –if you’re enjoying yourself or if you can’t help the person recover
- resentment – of your partner’s mood and the impact it’s having on you
- neglect –if the person close to you withdraws intimacy and stops communicating
- betrayal –if the person no longer has the capacity to help you with your problems.
Taking care of yourself
Your first task as a carer of someone with depression is to ensure you’re taking care of yourself. If your own level of physical and mental health declines, it’ll be even harder to look after someone close to you.
Regular exercise can help you keep your stress levels under control. The National Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults and Older Australians suggest that each week we need to be getting a minimum of either:
- 150 to 300 minutes of “moderate intensity” physical activity, or
- 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity.
It’s important to eat well, and this includes lots of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains and proteins. You should also limit your intake of alcohol and drugs. For more information on what to eat to stay healthy, read the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.
Getting good quality sleep can help you manage your energy and stress levels. Sleep can have the following benefits for your body:
- keeps your immune system healthy
- helps to control your appetite
- allows for repair and growth
To find out more, read tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
Looking after your mental health
While you may be focusing on the person’s mental health, it’s important to make sure you don’t neglect your own mood. Try to remember to do the following to stay mentally healthy:
- track your mood – it’s important to check your own mood levels each day and to make changes if you notice a downward trend
- be kind to yourself – this includes being gentle with yourself and positive self-talk
- take time for yourself – make sure you allow time to do the activities you enjoy
- set boundaries – accept you have limits and won’t always be able to be there for the person close to you
- connect with friends and family – it’s important to maintain your own social network so you have support when you need it
Getting professional help
It’s important to remember that depression is an illness and not a state someone can just “snap out of”. If the person is willing to seek help, it’s best to suggest they get professional help. They can either see their GP or another mental health professional. Medicare can subsidise up to 10 sessions with a mental health professional if they’re on a mental health plan.
Seeing a mental health professional together
You could also see a mental health professional together. They can give you direction and a plan to work on together. Going to these appointments with the person can help you bond and work on the problem together. A professional might also be able to point out issues that may not be obvious.
Where to get more help
If you or someone close to you needs support now, there are several phonelines available:
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.