Understand You Arent A Therapist
Its important to encourage a depressed friend to seek qualified help. You cant cure your friend by talking things out or giving great advice major depression needs to be addressed by someone with professional training, who can prescribe antidepressants if appropriate. Dont think that you can manage their symptoms on your own, says Dr. Bates. Just be there in a supportive, nonjudgmental way.
Be Grateful For What You Have
Being told to be grateful places blame on the person with depression, which can be incredibly invalidating and damaging, says Laura Geftman, LCSW, a mental health consultant for Lina, a virtual psychiatry clinic for depression and anxiety.
Far too many people think that they are to blame for their symptoms and worry that if only they werent weak or self-indulgent they would feel better. Implying that they dont feel enough gratitude insinuates that what they are experiencing is not a real medical illness, and it can make them hesitant to seek treatment for what is a very treatable condition.
Whats more, it may backfire and make the person with depression feel unworthy or undeserving of what they do have, Geftman explains.
Try instead: Your feelings are valid. Im here to listen.
Remind Them You’re There For Them
Depression can feel as though no one understands what you are feeling or even cares enough to try to understand, which can be isolating and overwhelming.
Research has shown that people tend to withdraw when they are depressed, so reaching out to a friend in need is an important first step. If your friend isn’t ready to talk, continue to offer your support by spending time with them and try to check in regularly, either in person, on the phone, or by text.
When you reach out to a friend, letting them know that you are going to be there every step of the way can be very reassuring.
You may not quite know what this will look like at first, but know that just reminding your friend that you are someone they can lean on can mean the world.
Read Also: Can Implant Birth Control Cause Depression
Take Care Of Yourself
When you care about someone whos living with depression, its tempting to drop everything to be by their side and support them. Its not wrong to want to help a friend, but its also important to take care of your own needs.
If you put all your energy into supporting your friend, youll have very little left for yourself. And if youre feeling burned out or frustrated, you wont be much help to your friend.
Setting boundaries can help. For example, you might let your friend know youre available to talk after you get home from work, but not before then.
If youre concerned about them feeling like they cant reach you, offer to help them come up with a contingency plan if they need you during your work day. This might involve finding a hotline they can call or coming up with a code word they can text you if theyre in a crisis.
You might offer to stop by every other day or bring a meal twice a week, instead of trying to help every day. Involving other friends can help create a bigger support network.
Spending a lot of time with a loved one who has depression can take an emotional toll. Know your limits around difficult emotions, and make sure you take time to recharge.
If you need to let your friend know you wont be available for a while, you might say something like, I cant talk until X time. Can I check in with you then?
Tips For Overcoming Depression
Depression can feel impossible. You donât have to give in to depression and think that things wonât get better. Instead, use these tips to improve your outlook:
- Get help from a mental health professional.
- Maintain activities that you once enjoyed.
- Keep up with friends and family members by talking regularly.
- Get some exercise, even if you just go for a short walk.
- Keep a routine of getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy diet.
- Adjust your expectations so you can cope with depression.
- Donât drink or do drugs as a way of treating your depression.â
- Search for local depression resources.
Read Also: How To Cope With Anxiety Depression
What If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment
If you are not happy with your treatment you can:
- talk to your doctor to see if they can suggest changes,
- get an advocate to help you speak your doctor,
- ask for a second opinion if you feel it would help,
- contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service and see whether they can help, or
- make a complaint.
There is more information about these options below.
An advocate is independent from the NHS. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard.
There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like. They arent available in all areas.
You can ask an advocate to help you make a complaint. Advocates that do this are called NHS complaints advocates. They are free to use and don t work for the NHS. They re available in all areas.
You can search online to search for a local advocacy service. If you cant find a service you can call our advice service 0808 801 0525 . You can email us too at . We will look for you.
Talk to your doctor about your treatment to see if you can resolve the problem with them first. If you dont agree with their decisions about diagnosis or treatment, you could ask for a second opinion. You are not legally entitled to a second opinion, but your doctor might agree to it if it would help with treatment options.
- Advocacy by clicking here.
Bring Up Your Concerns With Your Loved One
If you notice signs of depression in your loved one, its important to calmly share your concerns in a way thats nonjudgmental, says Ole Thienhaus, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. Its also crucial to give your loved one space to talk about what theyre feeling.
Listening is the most important part of beginning to help, Dr. Thienhaus says.
To get them talking, you may start by sharing the changes youve observed recently that worry you, Thienhaus says. When you do this, dont be critical just state the facts as you see them in a neutral way and pause often to give them room to respond to what you have to say.
Avoid any suggestion that they have no reason to feel so sad, Thienhaus adds. This means not saying things like, Look at all the good things in your life or Look at how much worse off so-and-so is, but she doesnt let her problems get her down.
Why is this harmful? Many people with depression already believe they should be able to snap out of it or should be mentally strong, Thames says, feelings that can stand in their way of seeking treatment for depression.
Don’t Miss: Is There A Blood Test For Depression
Thank You For Sharing This With Me
Educate Yourself About Depression
If you want to be a good friend and support someone who is dealing with depression, then it makes sense to educate yourself about depression. It is said that at least 322 million people are living with depression worldwide. This is a more common problem than some people realize, and there are also several types of depression. Not all people who deal with depression will have similar experiences, and some people have a tougher time coping with what is going on than others. You cant expect your friends symptoms to line up perfectly with experiences that someone else has had.
You might feel tempted to tell them that you understand what theyre going through or to try to compare what theyre feeling to something else that youve heard about. Comparing their experiences to something youve gone through is usually not helpful. Its best to just try to learn about depression and to be there as a source of support. You cant fix your friends issues, but you can be someone who shows them love and support. This support can make a difference, and the more you know about depression, the easier it will be to navigate these conversations.
Take The Time To Listen To Your Friend
Support The Idea Of Going To Therapy
Offer Your Help With Daily Problems
Have Fun Together
Try Not To Take Offense
Recommended Reading: What Can I Take For Depression During Pregnancy
Youre Not Alone I May Not Understand Exactly How You Feel But Youre Not Alone
Depression is incredibly common. According to quarterly data from the 2019 National Health Interview Survey, about 4.7% of U.S. adults experienced depression regularly. This is from the data we have, but many people dont seek help.
Depression can make many people feel alone and like they should isolate. Tell them theyre not alone. Be there for them, even if you dont have a similar personal experience.
If youve had depression, you can share that you know what theyre going through. This can help them relate. However, keep the focus on them. Remember to listen first.
Ways To Help A Friend With Depression Or Anxiety
If you want to be there for someone whos dealing with depression or anxiety, youre already being a great friend. It can be hard to know exactly how to help someone with depression or anxiety, and what to say to someone who’s having a rough time. Remember that each person is different, and while these tips are a guide, when helping a friend with depression or anxiety, its important to talk with your friend about what they feel they need.
Read Also: Green And White Capsule For Depression
Help Them To Find Support
Your friend might not be aware of what professional support options are available, or they may be unsure of how to get support. Even if they know about support options, it can be daunting to see a health professional.
You can offer support by encouraging your friend to speak to a health professional or an adult they trust. You could offer to join them for the conversation if they want, or even ask if theyd like you to book the appointment if its with a professional. A GP can organise a mental health care plan for them if needed. This means that your friend will get a referral to a psychologist or other professional. Theyll also get Medicare-subsidised sessions getting help doesnt have to mean they have to fork out hundreds of dollars.
Not everyone is ready to see somebody face-to-face. You could recommend hotlines or online chat-based helplines. The ReachOut NextStep tool can also provide tailored support options so they can make their own plan. Here are some support services they could use, and some more information about getting professional support for depression and anxiety.
If theyre not able to seek help on their own, ask for their permission to talk to an adult they trust on their behalf. If they refuse, and youre still really concerned, consider talking to an adult you trust, such as a teacher, parent or school counsellor.
Its Always A Serious Matter
Watching some comedy movies or reading a motivational book isnt going to make depression go away. It takes a lot of personal effort to overcome depression, so you should never undermine your friends problem.
Acknowledging your friends depression will be more valuable than you think. Dont make your friend feel like a patient, as depressed people tend to feel ashamed of their condition, so they may close and refuse conversation after all. Keep in mind that depression comes from deep emotional trauma or other traumatic events, and you can help your friend by patiently supporting their efforts to have professional treatment, highlights Eloyse Reese.
Ask your friend if you cant figure out which is the best method to provide support. Some may want to hang out without necessarily talking about their depression. Others will talk about their issues. As long as youre compassionate and non-judgemental, communication could be beneficial for your friend.
Read Also: Anxiety And Depression Of America
What You Can Say
For a long time, no one really talked about depression at all. Now were working hard to change that and we need to learn how to talk about depression in the right way. You cant help someone with depression in any meaningful way without talking to them about it. Thats why its so important to have the courage to speak up and find your words.
Support Them In Continuing Therapy
On a bad day, your friend might not feel like leaving the house. Depression can zap energy and increase the desire to self-isolate.
If they say something like, I think Im going to cancel my therapy appointment, encourage them to stick with it.
You might say, Last week you said your session was really productive and you felt a lot better afterward. What if todays session helps, too?
The same goes for medication. If your friend wants to stop taking medication because of unpleasant side effects, be supportive, but encourage them to talk with their psychiatrist about switching to a different antidepressant or stopping their medication entirely.
Abruptly stopping antidepressants without the supervision of a healthcare professional may have serious consequences. Typically, reaching out to a healthcare professional before stopping medication use can prevent health complications.
You May Like: Vitamin D Dosage For Depression
But You Were Doing So Well Before
A person living with depression fights as much as they can each day to persevere, Geftman says. Understand that experiencing periods of sadness, as well as progression plateaus, will happen, and this is part of living with depression.
It’s important to understand that depression like many other illnesses can seem to be in remission and then suddenly flare up. One systematic review published in the journal Clinical Psychology Review found several factors can contribute to recurring depressive symptoms, such as having another mental health condition along with depression like an anxiety disorder.
Try instead: What are some signs your depression is back? And if I notice the signs, what do you think might help you feel better?
Remind Them It’s Ok To Feel The Way They Feel
Even if your friend’s problems may seem minor to you, resist the urge to judge or come up with simple solutions. The biochemical imbalances associated with depression are what is driving how bad your friend feels about certain situationsnot necessarily the situations themselves.
Instead, let them know that you are sorry that they are feeling so badly and adopt an attitude of acceptance that this is how their depression is affecting them. If your friend only recently started taking medications or attending counseling, it can take time for them to begin to feel better.
Just as an antibiotic for strep throat takes a while to work, antidepressants can take some time to change chemicals in the brain .
During this time, what your friend needs most is not references to fast, easy solutions, but an awareness that you will be by their side through their treatment.
Also Check: How To Get Self Confidence Back After Depression
Heres What You Should Never Say To Someone With Depression
When someone you care about is depressed, you want to help. But people who mean well often say things that arent helpful, and might even make a person with depression feel worse. No one wants that. So, we talked to Tyler G. Jones, MD, chief medical officer at Banner Behavioral Health Hospital in Scottsdale, for advice.
If someone withdraws in a state of depression, dont take it personally. A person with depression often feels a lot of guilt for things like not being able to socialize or meet their normal obligations to friends and family, Dr. Jones said. People do not choose their illnesses. Genetics, stress, loss of a loved one, and factors like a history of trauma or other medical conditions such as heart attack can contribute to depression, and recovery is a process.
Dont be surprised if you have a family member or friend who is struggling with depression. Its a common condition. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates about 21 million people in the U.S. had at least one episode of depression in 2020. And the rate of depression is rising in adolescents.
Emotional First Aid Kit
An emotional first aid kit can provide an immediate, although temporary, positive effect on the way we think and feel. Having an emotional first aid kit readily available can help people who are struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self esteem, or other mental and emotional issues.
Don’t Miss: Dealing With Depression On Your Own
Ways You Can Help A Friend With Depression
10 Ways You Can Help a Friend with Depression
Depression can affect anyone. Yet, it is still an illness that many people don’t understand. People talk about mental illness much more than they used to. Even so, there is still a stigma attached to mental health. A stigma that prevents many people from being open about depression. If you have a friend with depression, it can be difficult to know what you can do to help them. Here are ten ways that you can help a friend who is suffering from depression.
1. Educate Yourself
The first thing to do if you want to help someone with depression is to learn more about the illness. If you have never suffered from depression, it can be very difficult to empathize with someone who is. There are lots of very good resources online that you can refer to. So, do some research and then you will be much better equipped to offer your friend help and support.
2. Take It Seriously
Depression is not something that someone can snap out of. You can’t fix the problem with one good night out, for example. When you are talking to someone with depression, don’t try to make light of the condition. Depression is a serious illness. You won’t be able to help a depressed person by telling them to cheer up or to pull themselves together and get over it.
3. Become a Good Listener
4. Encourage Them to Get Help
5. Offer Practical Help
6. Keep Them in The Loop
7. Don’t Try to Be an Expert
8. Don’t Belittle the Condition
10. Be Patient