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Taking care of others suffering from
anxiety or depression

When you sense
a change in a friend or loved one’s behaviour it can be hard to determine
what’s causing it.

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Sometimes we
get so caught up in our busy daily routine, that we forget to check-in with the
people we care about to see if they’re doing okay.

Counsellor Lisa
Bondarenko from Eshe Counselling says we’re generally good at providing
immediate support after a recent death, relationship breakdown, health issue or
redundancy; but are often unaware depression and anxiety can surface many
months or even years after a stressful event.

“Society has
created a stereotypical image that depression and anxiety have a certain look but
there is simply no one-size-fits-all when it comes to symptoms for these
conditions and when they occur,” Lisa says.

 “While out of character behaviours including
actions, decisions and choices, that don’t align with a person’s normal
personality can be a fair indicator that something is wrong, too often there
are no warning signs.”

Common
signs of anxiety or depression:

·     
Doesn’t seem to care
about anything anymore

·     
Expresses a bleak or
negative outlook on life

·     
Frequently complains about aches and pains 

·     
Insomnia or sleeping too much

·     
Eating patterns
significantly change

·     
Alcohol or drug abuse

“One of the most common things for family and
friends when it comes to supporting their loved ones suffering depression or
anxiety is fear,” Lisa says.

“As a support person, you shouldn’t be afraid to
have an open conversation with the person you are worried about. The worst
thing you can do is ignore them and hope they get better,” she says.

 “It’s
important you encourage your friend or family member in the first instance to make
an appointment to see their GP and create a support network around them by
engaging others.”

A support person should avoid telling a friend or
relative suffering anxiety or depression:

·     
It’s all in your
head

·     
Snap out of it

·     
Look on the bright
side

·     
Be grateful for
what you have

·     
Focus on the positives

What to say:

·     
You’re not alone
for feeling the way you do

·     
I’m here for you

·     
Let’s do something

·     
It’s okay to say
nothing and listen

·     
I care about you

“It’s important a support person is committed to
setting their own boundaries and continues to have fun in living their own
life,” Lisa says.

“Take time out for yourself and reach out to others
to create a bigger support network, so you’re not doing it alone in helping the
person you care for.”

If you or anyone you know needs support, contact:

Lifeline on 13
11 14 or the Suicide
Call Back Service 1300 659 467 for 24-hour Australian counselling services

Beyondblue 1300 22 4636 for 24-hour phone support, online chat, resources and
apps.

 

Kids
Helpline on 1800 55 1800 — free confidential 24-hour counselling for young people aged
five to 18.

 

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