Anxiety and depression are great sources of unseen pain in our culture. Despite countless awareness campaigns and the growing mental health field, both ailments remain a widespread, serious problem.
When someone is suffering from one or both of these ailments, their loved ones can play a key role in the healing process. With that in mind, let’s explore what that role can look like.
Don’t Run, and Don’t Try to Fix the Problem – Just Be Present
If a loved one with anxiety or depression opens up about their pain to you, and you find yourself feeling discomfort or fear, or even unqualified to help, do not be afraid. You do not have to know what to do. You do not have to know exactly what to say—though you will want to affirm your loved one for opening up. Oftentimes those who suffer from these conditions have the additional anxiety that sharing their situation will make others uncomfortable, or that they’ll be seen as a burden. They may feel that their ailment is a sign of weakness or an embarrassing spiritual flaw. You want to make sure they don’t feel this way! You also might feel pressure to “fix” the situation. Remember, you are not your loved one’s savior.
Instead, one of the most powerful things you can do is accompany your loved one by simply being present. Even if you think your presence is not enough, it will likely have a profound and positive impact.
Explore Treatment Options
It is important to encourage your loved one to receive the proper medical, mental, and spiritual health support. Our health is integrated, in that what happens to one part affects another, so encourage him or her to consult with different health experts, including a mental health professional, a medical doctor, and a priest or spiritual director. These experts can help them understand what’s going on in their life. With anxiety and depression, it is most critical to encourage your loved on to see a mental health professional, but the others are important and should not be forgotten. It is also important that you affirm your loved one’s decision to seek help. Let them know you admire the strength and humility he or she displays by doing so.
Finally, the most powerful tool that we have is prayer to Our Lord. He is the source of all healing, both natural and supernatural. He is in control and unites our suffering to His. Through this unification, He redeems it. The most important thing we can do for a loved one suffering from anxiety or depression is to pray for them.
Living with anxiety and depression is difficult. Unfortunately, many people struggle with these hidden illnesses alone. However, we can help our loved ones suffering from these illnesses by embracing these tips and loving them in imitation of Jesus.