Humans want to be happy. We want the people we love to be happy. Of course, we know that this will not always happen, that hardship will come.
But it is a particularly hard thing to watch your loved one struggle with depression.
Unfortunately, your love cannot “cure” their depression. It is unlikely that you can convince them of truth, if their thinking is distorted by the depression. And while they certainly love you back as best they can, it may not be possible for them to love you in the same way they typically have.
This does not mean there is nothing you can do. In the counseling room, there are several things we would recommend to someone who’s loved one is fighting against depression.
Stay calm, reliable, and present. It can be tempting to spend less time with them or show frustration, but this is not very helpful. They also may need your help to stay consistent with suggested interventions.
Continue to speak truth and hold to truth in conversation with them. While their thinking may be distorted, and you do not want to get into an argument, it is not helpful to give in and agree with them to a way of thinking that is untrue.
Monitor their safety and check-in often. We all know that suicidal issues are closely linked with depression. If this is a concern for your loved one, ask them if they’re thinking about this. Remove access (as much as possible) to dangerous items such as guns, prescription medications, or sharp razors or knives. Don’t avoid the topic.
Seek help from a professional. Even if they refuse to see a professional for help, that doesn’t mean that you can’t seek out help. But ideally, invite them along with you.
Pray for them and with them. It is a powerful thing to have someone pray out loud for you while you are sitting right there. Cry out to God and ask for specific areas of healing.
These strategies may not “cure” the depression, but they will help your loved one, and they will also help you. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your feelings and needs are less important simply because you are healthy. You need to continue to take care of yourself also.