If Someone Tells You Theyre Depressed What Should You Say Next
I think its really important that you dont feel like you have to fix it, but just be curious and listen to your friends experience, says Rosen. She advises asking questions like: What has it been like for you? Are you able to function at work? How are you doing at school?These should lead into the most important question to ask: Has it ever gotten so bad that you feel like hurting yourself or you want to end things?A lot of people wrongly think that asking about suicide will give someone the idea to do it. But experts say thats not how suicide works and that its really, really important to ask about suicide directly. By not asking, you could isolate a friend even more, and cause the person to spiral even further into suicidal thoughts.
Unless youre a mental-health professional, its not worth following up with hyperspecific, nitty-gritty questions like When did you start feeling bad? or What makes you feel worse? because whatever the person says will put you in a position of needing to share advice youre not qualified to give.
The next step would be trying to see if theyve actually been clinically diagnosed, says Cordero. Have they done any of the screenings? Suggest they take an online test its the same quiz theyd take in a primary-care doctors office, where people are encouraged to start seeking help for depression in order to rule out any other medical conditions.
You May Still Feel Alone But I Am Here
You can sit next to your friend every day and night, and they are still going to feel alone in their pain. Thats depression.
Depression will convince you that youre alone and, if you arent actually alone, it will work overtime to push everyone away to make it happen. You must remind your loved one that they are not alone. Remind them that millions struggle with depression every day. But, most important, tell your friend that you are there for them.
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.
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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.
Depression Is A Real Medical Condition
Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. Depression symptoms can interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy your life. Although researchers are still studying the causes of depression, current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Most people with depression need treatment to feel better.
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When Good Intentions Go Wrong
It’s possible that you can say all the “right” things and your friend will still become upset with you. Every person is an individual with unique thoughts and feelings, and being angry and upset is the nature of depression.
Sometimes people will lash out at those trying to help them because they are hurting and don’t know where to direct those bad feelings. Whoever is nearby becomes a convenient target.
If this happens, try not to take it personally. Stay calm and continue to do what you can to love and support your friend in whatever way they will allow.
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.
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Text Messages To Cheer Someone Up After A Breakup
Breaking up is rarely easy. You may know what its like to adapt to life after a breakup. Here’s how to comfort someone over text who is going through this experience:
- “Tomorrow will be easier. The next day will be even easier. And so on…”
- “Hey, why don’t we .”
- “Say whatever you need to say about this. No judgment.”
- “So, what are you doing to get over this?”
- “So, I heard a funny joke today…”
11. Tomorrow will be easier. The next day will be even easier. And so on
There are many ways to get over a breakup. Often, you simply need to let time run its course. Getting over a breakup tends to get easier with each passing day. Remind a friend of that .
12. Hey, why dont we .
Friends often cheer each other up after breakups by suggesting fun activities. You may not be able to hang out in person but you can probably think of remote activities your friend would enjoy, like playing an online game or participating in a hobby together, such as playing music through video chat.
13. Say whatever you need to say about this. No judgment.
People often need to vent after a breakup. Maybe your friend or loved one needs to call you and express every tiny feeling you can give them permission to do so via text.
14. So, what are you going to do to get over this?
15. So, I heard a funny joke today
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Lets Ride This Out Together
My wife and I have a ride or die marriage. We have to. Both of us have an illness thats intent to kill us or worse, tear us apart. Its been Kristen and me against the world since day one. No matter what, gold or crap, its her and me, Bonnie and Clyde-ing it against our mental illnesses.
I had a friend once carelessly ask me if Kristen and I were a little co-dependent. This friend clearly didnt understand what it meant to fight an illness hand in hand together and rely on each other. Ironically, this friend now struggles daily to revive his dying marriage. Maybe a little dependence is helpful now and then.
Let me be clear Kristen and I are not kinda co-dependent. We are fully dependent. God brought us together to fight this hand in hand, and we lean on each other every day to ride this thing out. Our faith in God fuels our fight, but I want it known that we do a lot of heavy lifting too. I cant survive my depression without God and Kristen, and she cant survive hers without God and me. Label that all you want, but were committed to riding this thing out together.
How To Talk To Someone About Depression
Sometimes it is hard to know what to say when speaking to someone about depression. You might fear that if you bring up your worries the person will get angry, feel insulted, or ignore your concerns. You may be unsure what questions to ask or how to be supportive.
If you dont know where to start, the following suggestions may help. But remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. You dont have to try to fix your friend or family member you just have to be a good listener. Often, the simple act of talking face to face can be an enormous help to someone suffering from depression. Encourage the depressed person to talk about their feelings, and be willing to listen without judgment.
Dont expect a single conversation to be the end of it. Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again. Be gentle, yet persistent.
Know The Different Forms Depression Can Take
Depression often involves sadness or a low mood, but it also has other, less well-known symptoms.
For example, many people dont realize depression can involve:
- confusion, difficulties with memory, or difficulty focusing
- excessive fatigue or sleep concerns
- physical symptoms such as stomach distress, frequent headaches, or back and other muscle pain
Your friend may often seem to be in a bad mood, or feel exhausted a lot of the time. Try to keep in mind that what theyre feeling is still part of depression, even if it doesnt fit into the stereotypical versions of depression.
Even if you dont know how to help them feel better, simply saying Im sorry youre feeling this way. Im here to help if theres anything I can do may help.
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You Can Play A Role In Research By Joining A Clinical Trial
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.
In addition to volunteer research opportunities for the patient groups listed above, research opportunities for healthy volunteers are also available. Healthy volunteers play a critical role in our studies.
For more information about clinical research and how to find clinical trials being conducted around the country, visit NIMH’s clinical trials webpage.
When We Dont Have The Energy To Talk
Depression is exhausting. When things get bad, we dont have the energy to do much. There are times we cant even talk. Thats when you need to shut up. Just be there. Ill write it a second time so that you know how important it is. Just be there.
After over a decade fighting depression in both her and my life , my wife and I call our shots. Any coach will tell you, in a team sport, you must talk to each other. Tell each other whats going on so that you can better handle the opponent.
Now, after fourteen years of fighting depression hand in hand, Kristen and I ask each other when its time to shut up. Kristen will see me start to spiral. Or Ill try to bring up the positives three or four times and she will refuse to catch on. Thats when we say, Do you just want me to be quiet?
That may sound rude to an outsider, but when Kristen asks me if I just want her to be quiet, thats my teammate asking me where I want the ball. When I say, yes she knows I just need her to be there. I need her warmth and comfort, but I dont need her to talk. I dont have the energy to listen or respond so we just need to be still.
When Kristen is depressed and tells me just to be quiet, Im not offended. Thats my fellow soldier telling me where to send the firepower to help her. She needs me, but she doesnt need me to give her advice or tell her anything positive. She just needs me to shut up and be with her.
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Tell Them You Understand
Before you tell someone “I understand,” you should be certain that you actually do. Have you ever experienced clinically significant depression? If you have, it may be helpful for your friend to hear that you have experienced what they are feeling and that it can get better.
Keep in mind, however, that there are several different types of depression, and even if you did experience clinical depression, it may have been very different than what your friend is going through.
If what you have been through was a case of the blues, on the other hand, your friend may feel like you are trivializing their experience by comparing it to yours.
In this case, it would be best to simply admit that you don’t understand exactly what they are going through, but that you care about them and want to try. Often, the best words to say are, “I don’t understand, but I really want to.”
I Cant Imagine What Its Like But I Want To Listen
It helps when you acknowledge that you have no clue what its like for us. Look, we know you dont know what its like, but it means a lot more to know that YOU know that you dont know what its like for us. You know? So start off there, admit that you dont get it but follow up with the fact that it doesnt change anything. Youre there and want to learn more about what your loved one is going through.
My closest friends and family, even my Thunder Buddies, have no idea the horror that goes on inside my brain. The pain and suffering I feel on a daily basis are unheard of to everyone around me.
Its the ones that want to know more, the ones who ask me questions, the ones who listen intently to what I have to say those are the people who are making the most progress in bringing me back to life.
When you want to listen, when you want to learn more about our struggles, it shows us that youre willing to invest in us. That proves, first that youre someone we can go to if were in trouble. But more than anything, its just more evidence that were not alone, that people care, and that were worthy.
I dont forget the people who ask for more information about what I go through. I remember the people who listen to what I have to say about my illness. Those people show me that my depression is lying to me, I am worthy, and people do care.
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Validate Your Depressed Friend’s Feelings And Set Appropriate Boundaries
Depressed people can be acutely hopeless and hard to console, making friendships difficult. Below are some of my thoughts about what friends can do for a depressed person and how friends can maintain appropriate friendship boundaries with the depressed person in their lives.
Validate the pain and move on. We know that distraction is actually good for depressed people, and rumination going over the same negative feelings over and over only encourages further depression. This is not to say that you should ignore your depressed friend’s proclamations of sadness and misery. On the contrary: Validation, listening, and acceptance are helpful, as is encouraging them to also do something other than wallow in their own misery.
Set boundaries. Depressed people may be acutely sensitive to rejection, and you may feel guilty if you try to set boundaries. Don’t feel guilty. Think about what your boundaries are, and respect them. For example, are you okay with listening to the depressed person talk about their miserable life for 10 minutes, but not 1 hour? That’s totally reasonable. Telling the person that you can only talk about their misery for a certain amount of time , and that you will then need to change the subject, is appropriate. This should be something that they respect.
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I Dont Think Youre Crazy
There is still so much stigma around mental health that sufferers often feel marginalised for having a problem. Feeling alone and different from everyone else will only exacerbate the problem, so remind your loved one that although their illness is real, its treatable and doesnt make them any less of a person.