How can I help a family member who is extremely depressed?

Question:

My older brother went through a horrible break-up this past Christmas and has been extremely depressed ever since. He is having a hard time moving on from the break up. He took anti-depressants for a while and that didn’t seem to help. I’ve told him that he needs to move on and that everything happens for a reason but that doesn’t seem to help. What else can I do or say to help him over come this depression?

Answer:

This is a great question, and very common.  Who hasn’t gone through a break up?  It’s obvious your brother is in a lot of pain.  Whatever you’re saying to him, no matter how well-intentioned, can’t get past the heartache he’s feeling.  He’s going through the stages of grieving.  I would recommend he start going to therapy; that would help him re-frame the situation objectively.  It’s important for me to know who initiated the break up and why, how long they were together, etc., for me to give a more helpful answer.  In the meantime, maybe you can have him compose a list of the relationship’s pros and cons.  Sometimes that helps puts things in perspective.  It’s also very critical that he get busy doing things he loves.  Depression sucks a person in, and doesn’t like to let go.  Rather than trying to get him out of the depression, be there for him.  His feelings of rejection may be very strong.  That might be the crux of his problem.  He needs to understand he is whole without her.  Let me know if I can be of further help.  I would need more details, however.