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Beat Depression: How to Support Women You Know

Photo by 2nd Lt. Brian R Ballou

Depression does not discriminate. It affects people of all ethnicities, economic backgrounds and ages. However, biological, social and gender differences -- and the experiences, stressors and expectations that surround them -- put women at greater risk for depression.

How to Support Her

By learning how to offer support and understanding, you can help your loved one access resources for coping with and overcoming depression.

  • Keep her socially engaged: People with depression often isolate themselves. Try to connect with her socially. Invite her out for coffee, to join you at a spin class, or to sign up for a paint class. As a friend or family member, you may know her best; find social activities you know she’ll enjoy.
  • Suggest narrative therapy: Joining a support group with women in similar situations can relieve stress or help her open up. Help her find a space where she can share what she is experiencing.
  • Encourage treatment: With the love and support of family and friends,  professional treatment can have tremendous benefits. With the right treatment approach, the woman you care about can get better.
  • Be thoughtful with your words: Have patience and show compassion when communicating with her. Give her some space, but know when to intervene so you don’t enable her.
  • Stop problem-solving: It can be very scary to hear that someone close to you has depression. You may be tempted to offer solutions with the hope it will solve her problems, but sometimes just listening is more helpful. Check in with her regularly. Don’t assume you know what she needs ask her how you can support her.

Resources

Review the following list for more resources from our centers and partner organizations:

  • AfterDeployment offers a free, easy-to-use self-assessment tool for depression screening.
  • The Real Warriors Campaign has many articles on managing depression and encourages service members, veterans, and military families to seek help.
  • The  Mood Tracker App allows users to monitor and track emotional health.
  • The Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE) offers downloadable resources for patients and families that describe the warning signs, related mental health conditions and factors that contribute to risk of depression unique to men and women.

Service members in crisis should seek help immediately by going to the nearest emergency room or contacting the Military Crisis Line. Dial 800-273-8255 (press 1 for military) for 24/7 crisis support. Family members and friends of service members or veterans can also use the Military Crisis Line to reach immediate help.

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This page was last updated on: November 13, 2017.