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Supporting Someone With Depression

January 13, 2022
3-5
 min
Compassionate woman providing help to woman under emotional distress.

Sometimes, the best way to talk about depression is just to blurt it out. And listening to what someone says rather than hearing their words is vital. Let's take a closer look.

What's the difference between hearing and listening?

Three linking puzzle pieces. Left to right pieces say listening, bridge the gap and hearing.

Hearing

The dictionary defines hearing as: ‘the process, function or power of perceiving sound’. When we hear something, we’re aware of the noise or sound it makes, but we don’t necessarily interpret or make sense of it. Sometimes we will hear things subconsciously. It’s not always within our control.

Ear of young woman with illustration showing simulation of sound waves.

Listening

Listening, on the other hand, is defined as ‘to pay attention to sound’ or ‘to hear something with thoughtful attention: give consideration’. To listen, we must interpret the sound(s) that we hear. We pay attention to them, process them, and try to make sense of them. It’s a conscious, psychological process.

Attentive modern mature woman listening to a friend at home.

More than words can say…

We’ve all ‘heard’ of non-verbal communication. But what is it?

Non-verbal communication includes gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, body language; whether a person is crying, doesn’t make eye contact, appears cross or distressed, or any other action that communicates something to us without using verbal sounds. It can sometimes tell us as much as verbal communication.

And then, there’s active listening

We might have heard the term ‘active listening’ before, but not know what it means in practice.

When we’re actively listening, we focus on the person who’s speaking to try and fully understand what they’re communicating. We give the speaker time and try not to interrupt. If we’re unsure of something they’ve said, we ask questions, and we’ll often repeat what the speaker has said in our own words to check our understanding.

Female psychologist consulting in psychotherapy session with male patient.

When active listening, we’re actively involved in the conversation. This is important because it allows us to fully understand what’s being said to us.

Encourage treatment

Active listening doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but the good news is that most therapists are trained and very skilled in active listening.

Frustrated woman getting a psychological support remotely.

People with depression may not recognize or acknowledge that they're depressed. They may not be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression, so they may think their feelings are normal.

All too often, people feel ashamed about their depression and mistakenly believe they should be able to overcome it with willpower alone. But depression seldom gets better without treatment and may get worse.

With the right treatment approach, the person you care about can get better.

Here's what you can do to help:

  • Talk to the person about what you've noticed and why you're concerned.
  • Explain that depression is a medical condition, not a personal flaw or weakness — and that it usually gets better with treatment.
  • Suggest seeking help from a professional — a medical doctor or a mental health provider.
  • Express your willingness to help by setting up appointments, going along to them and attending family therapy sessions.

Find a Focus Mental Wellness Therapist

Focus Mental Wellness therapists are also compassionate and provide online therapy for a wide range of issues. When you need to talk and truly be heard, Focus Mental Wellness is there.  

If you are experiencing a medical or mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.

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