Psychological Wellness: 10 Ways to Be Kindful To People with Depression

By Dr Phang Cheng Kar (M.D.)
Consultant Psychiatrist & Mindfulness-Based Therapist

  1. Don’t stigmatize them – they are not mad, psycho, violent or bad. They are human beings like you and me (but with a psychological disorder), who are capable of being good, happy and successful in life.
  2. Try to understand depression as much as possible. Recall the occasional periods of sadness and lack of motivation in your life. Amplify that 10 times in frequency and intensity – that’s how it feels to have depression as an illness. When we understand, we’ll be able to care more effectively.
  3. Gently remind them to take medications and do whatever necessary to get well, e.g., engage in more activities, read about depression, eat healthy food, and go for clinic follow-ups.
  4. Spend time with and accompany them for their activities, e.g., exercise, a walk in the park, buying things from the market. Don’t just tell them to do it; invite them to do it with you and give plenty of encouragement with every slight progress.
  5. Offer practical support, e.g., cooking, cleaning the house, giving a lift to the clinic, settling the bills, taking c are of children, collecting medicines, etc.
  6. Avoid giving advice compulsively, “Try this/that…don’t do this/that…must do this/that…” Though with good intentions, you’ll probably make him/her feel more confused and helpless. Be a good listener; explore their concerns and empathize, before offering suggestions.
  7. Try not to be over-protective. They need to be trusted that they’re capable of doing things on their own with support. Sometimes we also need to be firm with them for their own good, e.g., insisting that they should stop abusing drugs (e.g., cannabis), compliance with medications, clinic follow-ups, and daily exercise.
  8. Give them equal opportunity for employment when they are well. Allow them to take leave just like any other illness when they need to take time off for clinic follow-ups.
  9. Be kind and supportive through non-verbal expressions: a friendly smile, a hug, offer tissue papers for crying, a pat on the shoulder as encouragement.
  10. Repeatedly assure them in words that you love, care and respect them unconditionally. It’s not they don’t trust you; they actually don’t trust and probably hate themselves – depression has damaged their self-confidence and self-worth.


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