How Can I Support a Loved One Living With MDD?

How Can I Support a Loved One Living With MDD?

Living with major depressive disorder (MDD) can be difficult, especially if someone is in the early stages of treatment. MDD is a serious mood disorder that can affect every aspect of life for those experiencing it. It can change how people feel about themselves, leading to negative interactions with the people around them and negative experiences in their daily lives.

If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of MDD, you know the impact it can have on your thoughts, feelings, and activity levels. At the same time, if someone you love is struggling with MDD, it can be challenging to navigate. Figuring out the best ways to be supportive can be difficult. You might feel helpless that you can’t do more to help them. It could also start to affect your own mental health. 

Living With MDD 

Often MDD is described as feeling sad or down. While this comparison isn’t necessarily wrong, this condition affects a person much more intensely than the feelings of sadness that come and go with our experiences in life. Becoming disinterested or hopeless in your own life are common symptoms of living with any form of depression. Someone struggling with MDD might also experience a lack of self-esteem and confidence. Even participating in life’s everyday routines can be completely overwhelming. 

MDD can cause a person to experience physical symptoms as well. Unusual sleep habits are a symptom of MDD. Someone might have trouble sleeping or want to sleep excessively. Eating habits can also be affected by MDD, causing a person to have no appetite or make unhealthy food choices. While changes to eating and sleeping patterns can be symptoms as well, they can also make symptoms of depression worse. 

Living With a Loved One With MDD

It is not uncommon to find yourself having your own struggles if you love someone who is living with depression. Sometimes you might feel like your needs are not being met. You might feel like you are expected to do more than you are capable of doing. Feeling like you are not able to express your feelings can also be a problem. This might lead you to experience negative feelings like frustration or even anger.

Your loved one may be angry, defensive, apathetic, or withdrawn. It is crucial to remember that they are not trying to hurt you. Although it is difficult, try to examine their actions objectively as symptoms of depression. This will help you manage your feelings and reactions to their behavior.  

How to Be Supportive 

It is important to be aware that everyone’s experience with MDD will be unique, just like every person is unique. Communication is key when trying to reach an understanding and cooperation. Sometimes when a loved one is really struggling with mental health symptoms, they may not be able to communicate their feelings or needs effectively.

Things to Say

When talking with someone with MDD, finding the right words can seem daunting. No matter what you are trying to say, make sure you are sincere and compassionate.

  • “I care.” Your loved one may be feeling unloveable or insecure, and hearing you tell them you care can be reassuring for them.
  • “You are not alone.” This sentiment can have a double meaning. It may be helpful for them to know that there are other people out there who live with MDD. They also need to remember that they have people who love and support them. 
  • “It is okay to feel this way.” You might be able to help alleviate feelings of guilt and shame by telling them that it is okay to struggle.
  • “Getting help is okay.” Reassuring them that asking for help isn’t weak or embarrassing can be essential. Seeking professional help is a form of self-care that is important.

Things to Do

There is no quick-fix solution to managing MDD or supporting a loved one with it. But there are small actions you can take that will show your loved one that you care and help lift their spirits. 

  • Take a walk together. Sometimes a change in scenery can help significantly. There are even more benefits if you are experiencing nature at the same time.
  • Share a meal. People struggling with symptoms of MDD often have poor eating habits. They are more likely to eat and enjoy the experience if it is a shared one. 
  • Leave notes. Consider sending text messages with positive messages frequently. The message can be anything from something you admire about them to a positive affirmation that will be meaningful to them. 
  • Encourage them to get help. Of course, seeking help from a mental professional would be beneficial, but sometimes that can be too overwhelming for a person living with MDD. Participating in alternative therapies together can be a positive step. Consider trying yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy, or music therapy.

Things to Avoid

If someone you love is experiencing any form of depression, it is important that you avoid doing or saying anything that will make them feel worse. Try to avoid minimizing or simplifying their feelings and experiences. Do not make them feel like they are being selfish or weak. Approach every interaction with your loved one in the spirit of love, compassion, and understanding. 

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

You can’t help someone else if you are struggling as well. Make sure that you are taking time for yourself, keeping track of your own mental health status, and taking time to do things you enjoy. You will need love and support just as much as your loved one will. Find someone you can talk to honestly about your feelings. Sometimes you might need extra support from a mental health community. There are several resources available to you, including therapy, support groups, or even peer specialists. Always remember to take care of yourself, too. 

Supporting a loved one with major depressive disorder can be crucial to their mental health journey and treatment process, but it can also come with challenges to your own well-being. You deserve just as much support and compassion as your loved one. At Alter Wellness Care, we offer a variety of services that can help you navigate any challenges you may face. We can help you develop the skills and tools that you will need to thrive. Taking care of yourself is so crucial. Our compassionate team strives to provide the best support possible to each of our clients. Call us today at (866) 311-3510 to discover more information about how you can find the support you need. 

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