Talking to Depression
Some words can help, others can hurt.
One in every 10 Americans is living with depression every year. Someone we’re close to is going to be among them.
In Talking to Depression, author Claudia Straus teaches us to support the loved one, friend or coworker who is suffering. She shows us, with practical advice, how to make a difference.
You want to help, and you’re afraid of making things worse. It can be difficult to know how to communicate with someone who is depressed. Strauss helps us to understand, to a degree, what they’re going through: the despair, hopelessness, isolation and lack of energy. She offers practical suggestions for caring, effective ways to help them get through it. “Support from friends and family is a vital part of the recovery process,” she says.
Strauss, a communication consultant and educator, says that whether or not the person is getting professional help, you can still learn ways to contribute to their recovery. She advises, though, that you encourage them to seek medical treatment.
She shows us, with examples, how to set boundaries and how to avoid our own burnout, with questions such as “How about if we talk at 3 p.m. tomorrow and get together for coffee Friday at 5:30?” She suggests using cards, voice mail or email messages to tell them you’re thinking of them.
She also offers important advice about what to do if you think he or she is considering suicide.
“The greatest gift you can give,” she says, “is to help them retrieve themselves: their identity, their self-respect, their dreams, their self-confidence, their humor and their sense of connection.” She shows us how.
Here are just a few examples of the author’s suggestions: