How to Support Your Loved Ones Through Their Depression Counselling Journey

Aug 15, 2023Counselling

Depression is a prevalent mental health condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide, and Ireland is no exception. According to a recent study on anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was found that 22.8% of Irish adults reported experiencing depressive symptoms. In 2020, feelings of loneliness, downheartedness, depression, and nervousness were on the rise in Ireland, as reported by new data from the Central Statistics Office.

Depression is a complex and extraordinarily taxing condition, inflicting mental, emotional and physical burdens that extend far beyond the individual diagnosed with it. The ripple effects touch everyone sitting at the heart of this person’s life. The journey towards recovery often involves seeking professional help through depression counselling.

As a loved one, your role in this process is invaluable. Providing the right support can make a significant difference in your loved one’s healing journey. In this article, we’ll delve into how you can effectively support your loved ones through their depression counselling journey, focusing on the context of Ireland’s mental health landscape.

Understanding Depression and Its Impact on Individuals and Their Families

What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

Depression is a severe and prolonged mood disorder that plagues the individual with an array of persistent negative emotions – from pervasive sadness and hopelessness to an apparent loss of interest or pleasure in activities they once enjoyed.

However, the symptoms are far more diverse and complex, often varying greatly from one person to another. Some individuals experience chronic fatigue, reduced energy or persistent tiredness, while others may endure sleep disruptions, from insomnia to excessive sleeping.

Changes in appetite (marked by significant weight loss or gain), difficulty concentrating, or indecisiveness may also be notable symptoms. Depression may likewise manifest as recurring thoughts of death or suicide, affecting the will to live.

Comprehending these symptoms provides crucial context that aids in developing understanding and empathy for your loved one, preparing you to tackle the forthcoming counselling journey effectively.

What Are the Effects of Depression on Individuals and Their Loved Ones?

Depression takes a toll on every aspect of an individual’s life. It affects their emotions, cognitive abilities, and even their physical health. For loved ones, witnessing this transformation can be disheartening and confusing. The person you once knew may seem distant, irritable, or withdrawn. It’s important to recognise that these changes are not a reflection of your relationship but rather a manifestation of the illness.

The emotional impact of depression extends to loved ones as well. You may find yourself feeling helpless, frustrated, or even guilty for not being able to “fix” things. Understanding that depression is a complex condition rooted in both biological and environmental factors is essential. By separating the illness from the person, you can provide empathetic support that acknowledges their struggle without attributing it solely to their character.

It’s worth emphasising that, while depression might alter an individual’s demeanour, it does not erase their identity. The person you care about is still present, albeit shrouded in the shadows of their struggles. This realisation can serve as a foundation for offering unconditional support, demonstrating that you value and love them for who they are, regardless of their current state.

The Role of Counselling in Depression Treatment

Depression counselling is undeniably a formidable weapon in combating mental health issues such as depression. This form of psychotherapy offers your loved one a safe, nurturing and non-judgemental space to explore their feelings, thoughts and behaviours under the guidance of a skilled practitioner. Specifically, counselling seeks to identify the triggers of depression in your loved one’s life and environment, helping them understand and deal with these issues effectively.

Counselling also equips your loved one with effective coping strategies to handle stressors and depressive episodes. Moreover, it promotes healthier thought patterns, drives positive behavioural changes, and helps restore a sense of control and pleasure in your loved one’s life. Understanding the substantial role that counselling plays, therefore, paves the way for better support during the counselling period.

Finding the Right Depression Counsellor in Ireland

Selecting an appropriate counsellor is an imperative step towards successful depression treatment. Basic requirements include professional qualifications, experience, and specialisation in depression counselling.

Nevertheless, it’s not all about the letters after a therapist’s name. The therapeutic relationship – specifically, the bond and rapport between your loved one and their counsellor, is integral to the success of therapy. An environment of trust and respect significantly facilitates openness, empathy and understanding, fostering more productive therapy sessions.

Fortunately, Ireland is well-equipped with a wide array of resources to find qualified depression counsellors. In Dublin, Access Counselling is a highly reputable clinic that provides a wide range of counselling services with a focus on treating depressive disorders.

They take pride in having a remarkable team of professionals who hold extensive experience and qualifications in managing depression. Well-versed in a mix of therapeutic approaches, the counsellors create a tailored approach that meets the unique needs and circumstances of each client.

Beyond its team’s competencies, Access Counselling takes pride in the warm, safe, and welcoming environment it provides. Recognising the importance of mutual trust and respect in a therapeutic relationship, the counsellors make it their mission to understand and respect the unique journey of each person they serve. This fosters an atmosphere conducive to open and meaningful communication.

The Importance of Support During Depression Counselling

Depression, with its silent, isolating presence, often thrives on misunderstanding and lack of awareness. Support, therefore, begins with understanding — breaking the barriers of confusion and misconception — and accepting that depression is a serious health condition that demands attention.

The role of a compelling support system is often underplayed, assuming it’s the therapist’s responsibility alone. However, support outside the professional psychological environment is integral, fostering a sense of acceptance, security, and hope. Peer support groups, friends, family, partners, and colleagues all play a crucial role in an individual’s recovery.

Practical Ways to Support Your Loved Ones During Depression Counselling

Supporting a loved one who is navigating the challenges of depression is not a passive task but involves active and informed participation. Here are some practical ways to offer tangible support:

Being There

A loved one’s presence can have a powerful impact on people suffering from depression. Regularly checking in on them, spending quality time, and being patient and listening without judgment can convey the message that they are not alone in their journey and that it is okay to feel what they are feeling.

Empathising With Them

Acknowledge that their feelings and experiences are real and valid. Make an effort to understand their perspective. While you may not have experienced depression yourself, showing empathy without trying to fix or minimise their emotions can help them feel seen and understood.

Educating Yourself About Depression

Understanding depression goes beyond just being aware of its existence. Educate yourself about its symptoms and causes as well as available treatments. This knowledge will help you better understand your loved one’s experience, have more meaningful conversations, and offer relevant assistance.

Assisting With Everyday Tasks

Depression can make even the simplest tasks seem overwhelming. As such, one way to support a depressed loved one would be to assist with these tasks, whether that’s grocery shopping, household chores, or even just a gentle reminder to have a meal. Timely, practical help can go a long way towards supporting adherence to depression counselling.

Encouraging Professional Help

As supportive as friends and family can be, they are not a substitute for professional help. So, it is imperative that you encourage your loved one to see a depression counsellor. Additionally, supporting their treatment plan and being there during their therapy sessions can be extremely helpful for them.

Fostering Open Communication

Create a safe and trusting environment that makes your loved one comfortable to express their feelings and thoughts. Encourage discussion about their fears, expectations, and progress with therapy in a non-threatening, non-judgemental way.

Attending Relevant Sessions

If your loved one and the counsellor give consent, attending some counselling sessions can show your commitment to their well-being. This will give you a first-hand insight into what happens during therapy and how you can more effectively offer support outside therapy hours.

Additionally, helping them set achievable goals and tracking progress can provide a sense of accomplishment. Remember, your role is to facilitate their journey, not to “fix” them.

Recognising Signs of Progress and Challenges

Recovery from depression is not linear. There will be ups and downs. Celebrate even the smallest victories—getting out of bed, engaging in social activities—as signs of progress. However, setbacks are also part of the journey. Be patient and offer support during challenging times. Your unwavering presence can make a world of difference in their ability to bounce back.

Encouraging Self-Care and Wellness

Depression counselling is not just about talk therapy. It involves adopting healthier habits. Encourage your loved one to prioritise self-care and wellness. Simple activities like going for a walk, engaging in hobbies, or practising relaxation techniques can contribute to their overall mental health. By engaging in these activities together, you show solidarity in their efforts.

Ultimately, being part of your loved one’s recovery journey involves more than just providing a shoulder to lean on or sounding words of comfort on challenging days.

Challenges in Providing Support and How to Overcome Them

The Difficulties of Supporting a Loved One Through Counselling

Supporting a loved one through depression counselling is not without its obstacles. You may experience feelings of helplessness, frustration or even sadness. Self-care becomes paramount here. Keep in mind, you’re more equipped to offer support when you’re mentally prepared and emotionally strong.

Misunderstandings, fear, or even denial of the situation can also disrupt the support process. During this time, it’s essential to remember that depression can’t be ‘fixed’ overnight, and recovery is a journey, not a race.

Supporting Yourself During Your Loved One’s Depression

While your main focus is likely to be on your loved one, it is critical to also take care of your own mental health and emotional needs during this period. It is alright to acknowledge that witnessing a loved one struggle can be distressing and can tax your mental health.

Below are some tips on how you can ensure that you’re well-equipped to support your loved ones:

Maintain Your Mental Health

Take note of your feelings and emotional health. If you find the experience too overwhelming or if it is starting to negatively affect your own mental health, do not hesitate to speak to a mental health counsellor about your concerns.

Boundaries and Self-Care

Remember, it’s okay, and precisely essential, to set boundaries to protect your own wellbeing. Engage in activities that rejuvenate you and ensure you have enough energy to care for your loved one. Make sure to get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, maintain social interactions, learn to manage your stress, and allow yourself private time for relaxation or leisure activities.

Lean on Support Networks

You don’t need to handle everything on your own. Share your experiences and feelings with trusted friends or family. If you’re comfortable doing so, consider joining a support group for relatives of those with depression. These groups offer a space to connect with others who are in a similar situation and can provide insight, encouragement, and advice.

In conclusion, supporting a loved one through their journey in depression counselling may seem daunting, but with an understanding of the condition, patience, and appropriate resources, you can make a significant difference in their healing process and help them find their way back to health and happiness. Always remember that there is help and support available for both you and your loved one, and with time, appropriate treatment and commitment, recovery from depression is, indeed, possible.

Taking an active role in your loved one’s depression counselling journey is essential, and Access Counselling is here to strengthen your support system. Contact us today to gain access to practical knowledge, a network of professional depression counsellors in Dublin, and compassionate guidance in this critical time. Together, we can create a lasting positive change in their lives. Call us now on 015240708 or email


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