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How To Support A Friend With Depression

Alcohol Tobacco And Other Drugs

Helping a friend struggling with depression: Tips from Dr. Randy Auerbach

Misusing alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can have both immediate and long-term health effects.

The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. SAMHSAs 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.3 million people aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.

Keep Inviting Them To Hang Out

Your friend may be canceling plans more often because of depression. While you canât force them to hang out with you, it would be very meaningful to them if you keep inviting them to your plans and events.

Manage your expectations about their attendance, and make sure they know that theyâre still important to you. You can also start inviting them to more low-key events instead of events that might make them feel exhausted. A simple dinner and Netflix on the couch is less overwhelming than a concert or a huge party.

Do I Need Health Insurance To Receive This Service

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

Don’t Miss: Emory Treatment Resistant Depression Clinic

Ways To Help Your Depressed Friend

Psychreg on Mental HealthWHAT’S IN THIS ARTICLE?

Depression affects many people and some of us have friends already dealing with it. Even though we want to be there for them, we dont always know what to do and say to support them. We are all different, and there is no universal way to support our depressed friend and thats another challenge for us. However, the mere fact that you want to help your depressed friend is fantastic, and our suggestions may help you figure out the best way to approach and support them throughout this challenging phase of their life.

What If They Need More Serious Help

7 Simple Tips to Help a friend with Depression ...

There are times when you need to seek immediate help for someone with depression. If they present serious signs of being a suicide risk, you need to get a trained professional â such as their therapist â involved right away.

If youâre in the US, you can encourage them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK in order to reach a trained counselor. Theyâre available 24/7 to provide support.

In more serious cases, you may need to call 911 to get them emergency medical attention.

Someone could be at risk of suicide if they:

  • talk about suicide often or constantly
  • say they feel like theyâre âbeing a burdenâ to those around them
  • bought a weapon recently without a logical reason
  • give away valuables and get their affairs in order without a logical reason
  • make unusually heartfelt goodbyes
  • talk about âwanting a way outâ or feeling trapped
  • withdraw completely to be isolated and push everyone away
  • are unusually reckless or self-destructive
  • have concerning mood swings or personality changes

If you believe someone is at risk of committing suicide, get them help as soon as possible.

Supporting someone who is suffering from depression has its challenges. But youâre already being a great friend by reading this article. If you or a friend would like to seek more mental health support, take a look at our free resources, or take a free emotional assessment today!

Free resources on depression:

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Important Tips For How To Help A Depressed Friend In Need

Depression is something that impacts the lives of millions of people, and you likely know many individuals who deal with depression each day. If you have a friend who is suffering from depression, then you might be concerned and wish to help them out. There are ways that you can be there for your friend, but there are also certain things that you should avoid doing. Read on to explore essential tips for how to help a depressed friend in need. This information should help you to be a source of support for your depressed friend.

Ask Them If They Want To Talk

Sometimes the most important thing you can do for a depressed friend is to just listen sympathetically while they talk about what is bothering them, allowing them to relieve the pressure of pent-up feelings.

Make sure to listen without interrupting. We all wish to fix things for those we care about and often offer quick fixes to cope with our own feelings of helplessness. Sometimes people who are depressed just need to talk without having the conversation taken over with well-meaning advice.

Also Check: Signs You Need Depression Medication

Help To Continue With The Appropriate Treatment

There are many treatments to treat depression. But despite this, there are many people who do not seek help. Therefore, you must seek treatment for depression because :

  • It is treatable.
  • Treatment reduces pain and suffering over time.
  • The longer the disease lasts, the more complications there will be when treating.
  • It can prevent some serious consequences of depression, such as attempting suicide.

We, as a family member or friend, can help you with the follow-up of the treatment, in addition to trying that our loved one leads a healthy lifestyle .

Educate Yourself About Depression And Other Mood Disorders

How to Help Someone with Depression

You may not be able to cure your loved one. But you can better understand his or her condition by educating yourself about depression or the kind of mood disorder he or she has. Reading up on your loved ones illness will help you feel more in control of the situation and give you more patience to tolerate the confusing or frustrating symptoms.

Here are some places to start:

Read Also: How Does Depression Cause Weight Loss

Dont Attempt To Solve Their Problems For Them

If your friend is in pain, what they need is a safe space to express their emotions and feel supported. Your natural instinct might be to offer solutions or try to âfixâ them. But, if your friend isnât in a space to accept your advice, you may be setting both of you up for disappointment.

It also might make your friend feel worse to hear advice that seems simple but feels impossible to do. You can always offer advice when youâre asked, but remember that you can never force anyone to do something they have to do themselves.

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

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How Do You Know If Your Friend Is Going Through A Tough Time

Sometimes its hard to know the difference between the regular ups and downs of life, and mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. Someone experiencing mental health concerns might feel ashamed, and worried about how their friends might react if they talk about it.

Not everyone experiences depression or anxiety in the same way, and symptoms can vary however, there are changes in the way a person going through a tough time acts that you can look out for. If your friend is experiencing depression, they might:

  • seem down or tearful a lot of the time, or cranky more often
  • stay up really late or sleep in a lot, or have problems with sleep
  • miss a lot of school, work or their regular activities
  • miss hangouts or often cancel at the last minute
  • eat more or less than usual
  • drink alcohol or take drugs more than usual
  • talk about feeling empty, tired or worthless
  • seem more pessimistic and hopeless, and like they have less energy in general.

If your friend is experiencing anxiety, they might:

  • be obsessed with details, such as being a perfectionist or wanting to plan things out thoroughly
  • have difficulty making decisions
  • avoid new people, situations or unfamiliar places
  • have trouble keeping to schedules or plans
  • seem disinterested, forgetful, distracted or scattered
  • have digestive issues
  • have a need to reassurance about how you feel, whether plans make sense, triple checking times
  • have difficulty sleeping

Learn more about what anxiety is and how to recognise the symptoms.

What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline

How To Help Someone Who Is Depressed

SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.

Also visit the online treatment locator.

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Be Open To Talking About Depression

Sadly, mental illness is still stigmatized in many cultures, and for some people, depression may feel like a taboo subject. If youre open to talking about difficult feelings and thoughts, this can be hugely reassuring for your friend. By being open and non-judgmental, you provide a safe space for your friend to speak freely.

Of course, you dont need to force the issue. Your loved one may be comfortable talking about their experiences, but it might not be quite the time or place. Being there for them when theyre ready to talk and letting them know that its a safe topic of conversation is enough.

Make Them Smile Because Laughter Helps And Heals

As I mentioned in my post “10 Things I Do Every Day to Beat Depression,” research says that laughing is one of the best things we can do for our health. Humor can help us heal from a number of illnesses. When I was hospitalized for severe depression in 2005, one of the psychiatric nurses on duty decided that one session of group therapy would consist of watching a comedian poke fun at depression. For an hour, we all exchanged glances as if to say Is it okay to laugh? The effect was surprisingly powerful. Whenever the black dog has gotten a hold of a friend, I try to make her laugh, because in laughing, some of her fear and panic disappear.

Read Also: Always Feeling Sad And Depressed

Be Willing To Listen Up To A Point

People who are depressed especially men often keep everything inside. Sadly, this just makes the depression worse because it reinforces their sense of being all alone in their pain. When he does talk, listen without judgment and thank him for trusting you enough to open up. Talking is often cathartic. But theres a caveat here wallowing in ones misery by going over and over the same woes day in and day out for weeks on end is detrimental. If that pattern persists, strive to steer conversations in a productive, problem-solving direction and set limits on the amount of time spent listening.

Help Your Friend Get Professional Treatment

How to Help Someone with Depression

Even if your friend could be dealing with depression for some time, he/she may not be aware of the professional treatment solutions available out there. They could also hesitate about getting professional help misconceptions about professional help for depression and mental health conditions are widespread.

You may help your friend by supporting them to talk to a professional about their depression. Make yourself available for your friend, and dont hesitate to join them at the treatment centre if they ask you to be there. Plan and gather several solutions, together with the financial costs, to give your friend options to choose from.

Some people need to take baby steps to get treatment and may not be ready for face-to-face meetings at first. Look for treatment centres that provide hotlines and online chat-based helplines. Just because it doesnt look essential for you, doesnt mean it cannot help or guide your friend. Once your friend sees that compassionate professional help is available, they can gather the strength to enrol in a programme for depression.

Also Check: Best Mood Enhancers For Depression

Instead Say: I Am Sorry You Are Going Through This I Am Here For You

Acknowledging your friends feelings whatever they may be can help them feel seen.

Depression is painful. You dont need to put a positive spin on depression. Its OK to acknowledge that what your friend is going through is hard.

Pellegrino recommends reflecting back what your friend is telling you with statements like It sounds like you are feeling miserable, or It seems like its been hard to enjoy activities lately. This lets your friend know you are listening and taking what theyre going through seriously.

We have to hold hope for people who are depressed because they cant be hopeful, but if you start with that, theres going to be a gulf between you and theyre going to feel invalidated by that, Pellegrino says.

Once your friend feels understood, you can share that you believe they will pull out of depression, even if they dont feel that way right now. Just remember that having this hope doesnt negate the painful reality your friend is currently experiencing. It helps to hold space for both: the fact that things are hard now and that you believe they will get better.

Help Them Identify And Cope With Sources Of Stress

Its no secret that stress is a significant contributor to depression. Chronic levels of stress pour cortisol into your bloodstream and cause inflammation in your nervous system and every other biological system. In a study of rats published in May 2017 in Scientific Reports, conducted by researchers at universities in Aarhus and Aalborg, Denmark, stress was shown to reduce the brains innate ability to keep itself healthy. The hippocampus, which regulates mood, shrinks, negatively impacting our short-term memory function and learning abilities.

Stress also interrupts healthy coping strategies, which makes a person more vulnerable to mood swings. Your job is to help your loved one identify sources of stress in his or her life and brainstorm about ways to reduce it. These dont have to be dramatic changes. Small tweaks to your day, like employing some deep breathing techniques, can go far in reversing the detrimental effects of stress.

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Educate Yourself On Depression

Many people without first-hand experience of depression dont feel equipped to support someone going through it. Your friend may also not have the emotional bandwidth to explain to you what depression is, so it can be a relief for them if youve done your research.

At Calmerry, an online therapy platform, you’ll find an abundance of resources about the different types of depression, symptoms, and treatments, all of which can help you feel more confident speaking to your friend about how theyre feeling. However, remember that although there may be common symptoms of depression, everyones experience is unique.

Remember To Take Care Of Yourself

How to Help a Depressed Friend (11+ Tips and Professional ...

You have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of others. Overextending yourself in an effort to help your friend will only hurt both of you.

Thereâs a common saying that summarizes this nicely: âDonât light yourself on fire trying to keep someone else warm.â

It can be emotionally taxing to help a loved one who is dealing with depression. Setting boundaries around your support will help keep you afloat and protect yourself if things get too overwhelming.

For example, if your friend wants to talk but you donât have the emotional energy, then you can let them down kindly in order to take care of yourself. Be honest with yourself about what you can handle and let them know what your boundaries are.

Remember that youâre their friend, not their therapist. Depression is better treated by a professional. If you find yourself putting their needs above your own, itâs time to step back and reassess.

Read Also: Hope For Treatment Resistant Depression

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