Depression can have a devastating effect on a person's daily life. It makes work difficult and strains relationships. For someone who has had a major illness or injury, it can be even more damaging. Depression can delay the healing process and hinder the patient's ability to move forward.

What Can We Do?

If your friend or family member seems to be experiencing illness or injury-related depression, it is important to show as much support and encouragement as you can. The person has to want to succeed at recovery, but your encouragement can help them find that motivation. Make sure the patient knows that he or she is needed and that you want them to regain their physical health and continue to be a part of your life.

Simple Ways to Show You Care

It's important for a patient in rehabilitation to know they are not alone or forgotten. Isolation and boredom can quickly lead to depression. The following are some of the ways you can offer encouragement to a recovering loved one:

  • Send flowers or gifts. A surprise gift makes anyone's day, especially if they're in the hospital. Talk to the patient's nurses to find out what types of gifts are most appropriate.
  • Have grandchildren, nieces or nephews draw pictures or make cards. It's hard not to be cheered by a child's colorful creation.
  • Make signs to hang in the patient's room. Something that says 'way to go,' 'great job,' or 'we love you' can help the patient find motivation.
  • Send postcards or notes. Just a line or two will remind the patient that you are thinking about him.
  • Bring photographs of family, friends or pets to display in the patient's room. If the person has a special keepsake, it might also help to make the patient's room more comfortable.
  • Visit as often as you can. Ask the nurses on the unit when you can and should visit. If you can't get to the hospital, make a phone call.
  • Bring the newspaper when you visit. Talk about what's happening on the news. Keeping up on current events can help the patient stay in touch with the outside world.
  • Participate in family conferences and therapy observations. Your involvement in therapy will help the patient both physically and emotionally. This is especially important if you will be one of the patient's caregivers after discharge.
  • Celebrate holidays. If the patient is hospitalized over a holiday or birthday, bring a small celebration to him.