How to help someone with depression

Recognizing depression symptoms within a loved one

Depression is not the same for everyone. Symptoms may vary.

Your friend may be suffering from depression.

  • You may be more emotional or sad than usual
  • Become more pessimistic or less optimistic about the future than usual
  • Talk about feeling guilty, empty, and worthless more often than normal
  • They are less likely to spend time together or communicate as often as they normally do.
  • Get upset easily or become unusually irritable
  • You may have less energy than normal, feel sluggish, or appear listless.
  • They are less interested in their appearance or don’t practice basic hygiene such as brushing and showering.
  • Have trouble sleeping or have difficulty sleeping.
  • They care less about their interests and usual activities
  • You may experience more forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating on or deciding.
  • Eat more or less than you normally do
  • Talk about suicide or death

How can I help?

These 10 tips will help you be a support person for someone with depression.

Start a conversation

Let your friend know that you are there for them. Start the conversation by sharing your concerns or asking specific questions.

For example, you might say:

  • “It seems that you have been having a difficult time lately. What are you thinking?
  • “You seemed down the last time we met, and it was evident that you were not in your best mood. Do you have anything you would like to share?
  • “You said you’ve been through some difficult times in the past — how do you feel about it all?”

Be aware that while your friend might be open to sharing their feelings, they may not seek advice.

Active listening techniques allow you to engage with your friend.

  • Instead of thinking you know what they mean, ask questions.
  • Accept their feelings. You might respond, “That sounds really hard.” It’s a terrible thing to hear.
  • Your body language should show empathy and interest.

It is possible that your friend won’t feel comfortable talking to you the first time you ask. If this happens, it may be helpful to keep telling them that you care.

Ask open questions, but don’t be pushy. Also, express your concerns. When possible, try to meet in person. Video chatting is a great option if you live in different parts.

They need your support!

You may not know your friend is suffering from depression, or you may not know how to help them.

Even if someone knows that therapy can help, finding a therapist and scheduling an appointment can be overwhelming.

Offer to review potential therapists for your friend if they are interested in counseling. Your friend can be helped to list questions they would like to ask potential therapists and things they wish to discuss in the first session.

If they are having trouble with the first appointment, it can be helpful to encourage them and support them.

Could you continue to support them in therapy?

Your friend may not want to leave the house on a bad day. Depression can drain energy and make it more difficult to feel isolated.

Encourage them to continue if they say something like, “I think that I’m going cancel my therapy appointment.”

You might respond, “Last week, you said that your session was very productive and you felt much better afterwards.” Let’s say today’s session is productive.

The same applies to medication. Be supportive if your friend is ready to quit taking medication due to unpleasant side effects. Please encourage them to speak with their psychiatrist to discuss switching to another antidepressant or quitting completely.

Serious consequences could result from abruptly stopping antidepressants treatment without supervision by a healthcare professional. It is important to consult a healthcare professional before you stop taking antidepressants. This can help prevent serious health problems.

Take care of you

It’s easy to feel compelled to support someone suffering from depression if you care for them. While it is natural to want to support a friend in need, it is also important to take care of your own needs.

Set boundaries

Setting boundaries can help. You might, for example, let your friend know that you are available after you get home from work but not before.

If they feel like they cannot reach you, you can offer to help them create a contingency plan if they need you during work hours. You might suggest that they find a hotline or create a code word to text you in case of an emergency.

Instead of trying to help everyone every day, you might consider offering to come by once a week or to bring a meal. It is possible to create a larger support network by inviting other friends.

Practice self-care

It can be difficult to spend a lot of time with someone suffering from depression. You need to know your limits and recharge.

You might use the following sentence to inform your friend that you will not be available for a while: “I can’t speak until X.” You can check in with me then.

Learn more about depression by yourself

Imagine being required to explain to everyone in your life a mental or bodily condition you are experiencing. Sounds exhausting, right?

Talking to a friend about your specific symptoms and how you feel can be helpful, but it is best not to ask them about depression in general.

Learn more about the causes, symptoms, diagnostic criteria, treatments, and other information.

Although everyone experiences depression differently, it is possible to have deeper conversations with your friend if you are familiar with the terminology and general symptoms.

Offer your assistance with daily tasks.

Depression can make it difficult to manage daily tasks. It can be difficult to find the right place to begin with, chores like grocery shopping, laundry, and paying bills.

While your friend might appreciate the offer of assistance, they may not be able or willing to help you.

Instead of saying, “Let’s see if I can do anything”, try saying, “What do most need your help with today?”

If their fridge is empty, ask them, “Can you take me grocery shopping or pick up the items you need if I write you a list?” Or “Let’s get groceries and cook dinner together.”

Offer to help a friend struggling with dishes, laundry, or any other household chores. Turn on some music and let them do the work together. Having a company can make it seem easier.

Invite others to join you

Depression sufferers may find it difficult to reach out to others and make or keep plans. Canceling plans can lead to guilt.

If you have a pattern of canceling plans, it may result in fewer invitations, increasing your isolation. These feelings can worsen depression.

Your friend can be reassured by inviting them to continue to invite you to activities, even though they may not accept. You can assure them that you understand that they might not be able to keep the plans together when they are in a difficult place and that there is no pressure to stay until they are ready.

Remind them that you are happy to visit them whenever they feel like it.

Be patient

Although depression can improve with treatment, it is not always easy. It may take some time and trial and error. They may need to try several different medications or counseling methods before finding the right one.

Even successful treatment doesn’t always mean depression goes away entirely. Your friend might still experience symptoms from time to time.

They will probably have good days and bad days. Do not assume that a friend is “cured” if they have a few good days. Also, don’t get discouraged if your friend has a series of bad days.

Keep in touch

It can be helpful to let your friend know that you care even if they are struggling with depression.

Even if they aren’t available, you can check in with them regularly by texting, calling, or visiting. You can even send a quick text to let them know that you are thinking of them and that you care.

Depression can cause people to withdraw and become less open to others. This could lead you to be more involved in maintaining the friendship. Even if your friend can’t express it, being a positive and supportive presence in their lives can make a big difference.

Learn the various forms of depression.

Depression is often associated with sadness and low moods, but other symptoms may be more common.

Many people don’t know that depression can include:

  • anger, and irritability
  • Confusion, memory problems, or difficulties focusing can all be caused by confusion.
  • Sleep problems or excessive fatigue
  • Physical symptoms like stomach distress, frequent headaches or back pain

Sometimes, your friend might seem in a bad mood or exhausted all the time. Keep in mind that whatever they feel is still depression.

Even if they don’t know what to do, you can say “I’m sorry” and help them feel better. If there is anything I can do, I’m available to help.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.