April 7th is World Health Day, and the focus of this year's day is depression.
It's an issue nearly 15 million American adults face, yet somehow talking about mental health issues can still feel taboo. Even if you're not facing depression, it's important to know how to be a supportive friend or family member if you've got someone in your life who is. Here are some ways to be there for someone when they're dealing with depression:
Know that just listening helps
While you can't cure your loved one's depression, being there to listen is important. Don't feel as if you have to provide solutions or action steps. If someone you care about is experiencing a tough time, let them know that you're there for support if they want to talk.
Encourage them to seek professional help
When you know someone who's dealing with depression, encouraging them to seek professional assistance is important. They're lucky to have you to provide compassion and positivity, but ultimately they need to be under the care of a trained therapist as well. Advise them to seek out a mental health professional. If they're prescribed certain medications or a particular treatment plan, help them stay on track with this.
Know that it's nothing personal
If your loved one seems withdrawn or lashes out at you, it's easy to blame yourself and wonder what you did to cause the situation. Understand that your friend or family member loves you, and that you're not to blame for their depression. It's your responsibility to support them, but you aren't in charge of curing their depression or administering their treatment. Leave that to the professionals.
In order to effectively support a person in your life who's dealing with depression, don't forget to take time to care for yourself. Get plenty of sleep, exercise, eat well, and build in time each day to decompress. This will better allow you to give your loved one the care and attention they need.
Lauren Levine is a freelance writer who has contributed to publications and websites including The Huffington Post, Hello Giggles, Bustle, Thought Catalog, The Charlotte Observer, U.S. News & World Report, and others. She’s also the co-host of The Margarita Confessionals podcast. Say hi on Twitter, @lifewithlauren1.