How to Support a Sister with Depression and Anxiety
Amanda Landry, LMHC, CAP, NCC
Part of being in a sisterhood is being there for your sisters. Helping a sister with her depression and/or anxiety can seem challenging. Part of helping anyone out with depression and anxiety is understanding what it is and how it can impact them. Here are some guidelines you can use to learn about how to best support your sister in need.
- Know the symptoms of depression and anxiety
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, here are the symptoms of depression:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
According to the Mayo Clinic, here are the symptoms of anxiety:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having difficulty controlling worry
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
- Encourage them to seek out professional help
Getting a professional opinion and treatment recommendations is an important step towards management and recovery. For collegiate members, most campuses have free counseling services that students can access. Most insurances cover mental health services and there are organizations out there that help make mental health more accessible. A great resource is called Open Path Collective. They link people up with therapists that offer a sliding scale. You can find out information about them here: https://openpathcollective.org/.
- If you are worried about suicide or self-harming behaviors, connect with them the suicide hotline.
In the United States, you can reach the toll-free, 24-hour hot line of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to talk to a trained counselor. In Canada, you can reach the toll-free, 24 hotline at 1-833-456-4566.
- Recognize your limits
It is important to be a support system for your sisters; however you also need to remember your limits. When you have a family member, friend, sister or partner with any mental health issues, it can come with a toll on your own mental health. Be sure you are taking care of your mental health and engaging in regular self-care.
- Support them by being there
One of the best things you can do is just be there for someone. When depression hits, people often feel lonely. By having a friend they can go to may help them feel less lonely and isolated. Being isolated may be what they want to do but it’s the opposite of what they need to do. Encourage them to participate in pleasurable and fun activities, even if they don’t feel like it. For those who struggle with anxiety, let them know you will sit with them when they feel anxious. Learn some breathing exercises you can do with them. A great tool for anxiety is distraction. Help your sister out by distracting them with an interesting story.
Be patient if your sister does not seek help right away or continues to struggle. Depression and anxiety is not something that simply goes away without appropriate treatment and support. For more information about how to help, check out the resources below.
Name: Amanda Landry
Chapter: Beta Tau
I’m Amanda and I’m excited you have found me. I love working with young adults to find their passion in life, remove blocks that are keeping them from being their most awesome self and learn to live a life they have always dreamed.
I practice therapy in a beautiful and comfortable office in Davie & Wellington Florida at my own private practice called Caring Therapists of Broward & Palm Beach. I’m a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Addictions Professional and National Certified Counselor. I’ve been a therapist for more than 8 years and absolutely love what I do. I’ve worked with teenagers overcome addictions, young adults go off to college and become successful, and young adults overcome depression and anxiety. I have helped couple’s save their marriages and relationships. Find out more at www.caringtherapistsofbroward.com