Rejection of help or support is very common during depression, perhaps more so if the depressed person is male. Subsequently, the person who tries to help can feel snubbed or upset if their attempts at support backfire. If you walk away they feel even more isolated and if you try to help they reject it; what’s a person supposed to do? You may think it’s a little strange that the first two suggestions are about you, but these issues are important as living alongside depression can be emotionally draining.
First, be practical and realistic. You cannot take depression away. Nothing you say or do will change this so don’t accept the burden of their depression and don’t try to problem-solve your way out of it by seeking answers. If you need a focus, learn more about the nature and course of depression.
Think about how you are being affected. Are you more moody, more sad or irritated? Is the atmosphere between you tolerable or has it reached a point where the things you say or do seem to make matters worse? You have to cope with your own feelings and not everyone is equipped to shoulder the burden of supporting a very depressed person. If things are difficult for you at least consider ways of offering support that reduces your input and increases help from others, or maybe even leaving the help entirely to someone else.
The fact that someone is available for support is an important thing for a depression sufferer. They may reject your support but your permanence is important. Sometimes it’s easier not to try so hard. To back off but keep a watchful eye over things like diet and behavior.
If someone is rejecting you constantly, and perhaps being hostile, you can say how it is making you feel. Try not to accuse or blame as this may fan the flames further, but maybe ask if there is some specific ways you can help. You’re not an emotional punch bag however, so you’ll have to decide on your parameters. On that note, you should try to maintain your routine and not push everything and everyone aside. It only makes things more intense and you become more isolated.
Ask for help and advice. This may sound counter-intuitive but communication and support is a two way process. The fact that you are asking shows you value the person over their depression. Depression is undermining and confidence sapping but the worst aspects of depression will pass, so it pays to be optimistic.
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.