We Can Try Again Tomorrow
Sometimes depression just ruins a day completely and the person feels like a failure and a waste. Telling them that not only can they try again tomorrow, but we can try againtogethergives them hope, and nothing is stronger than hope when youre trying to overcome depression. Sometimes a day is going to be bad, but that doesnt mean we need to give up. Tomorrow will always come with fresh new possibilities, and you can face them together.
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.
Dont Talk About Bad Days
Why its harmful: Its trueeveryone does have bad days. However, that doesnt mean you need to point it out to someone with depression, who may be struggling on a day-to-day basis. This statement reduces their serious health condition to a bad day and implies that its something theyll get over quickly and easily, Plotnick says.
What to say instead: Im sorry that youre having a bad day. Id like to help.
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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.
Take Their Feelings Seriously
If someone is living with a mental health concern, it isnt possible for them just to snap out of it, cheer up or forget about it. Acknowledge that what’s happening must be difficult to handle don’t tell them that their feelings are weird or unfounded.
Try not to approach your friend like theyre a patient or someone who needs to be fixed…this might make them feel embarrassed and belittled, and can make them close themselves off to you. Anzelmo
If youre not sure how to help someone with depression or anxiety, ask them. You could also offer them some options and let them choose what suits them best. For example, you could offer to listen and let them express their thoughts, or just to hang out, without serious conversation.
Try to be caring, compassionate and curious, and let them know that they matter to you and you are taking them seriously.
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Minimizing Or Comparing Their Experience
If your friend talks about their depression, you might want to say things like, I understand, or Weve all been there. But if youve never dealt with depression yourself, this can minimize their feelings.
Depression goes beyond simply feeling sad or low. Sadness usually passes fairly quickly, while depression can linger and affect mood, relationships, work, school, and all other aspects of life for months or even years.
Comparing what theyre going through to someone elses troubles or saying things like, But things could be so much worse, generally doesnt help.
Your friends pain is whats real to them right now and validating that pain is what may help them most.
Say something like, I cant imagine how hard that is to deal with. I know I cant make you feel better, but just remember you arent alone.
Dont Think You Know Better
Its natural to want to advise your loved one or even push them to do something you believe is good for them.
In reality, depression often requires support from a mental health professional. However, its important that the decision to reach out for help comes from the person living with depression.
Pressuring them to socialize or do something when they dont feel like it may lead them to withdraw from you. Again, its not personal. But they may not be ready to take the step youve set up for them.
You may want to meet them where they are, instead.
It is best to learn everything you can about depression and listen more than you speak, Ryland says.
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What Can You Say To Someone With Depression Instead
Dr. Jones said there are several ways to help someone who has depression.
- Ask them how they are feeling, acknowledge that you accept that their feelings are real, and support them in getting the help they need. Asking someone what they need can be helpful, but sometimes people dont know what they need or dont believe they can be helped, Dr. Jones said.
- Offer to spend time with them in ways they can handlemaybe that means watching a movie at home together or sharing a quiet meal. Be sure to say something like, Can I go for a walk with you? rather than You should go for a walk.
- Ask if you can help with chores or cooking. Dr. Jones said, Small tasks can seem daunting, and as things pile up, a person who is depressed may begin to ruminate on those things they arent doing.
- Try to remove the barriers to treatmentyou may want to offer to help them make appointments, for example.
- Instead of offering solutions or advice, say something like, Is this something where you want advice, or is it helpful just to say it out loud so I can listen?
Keep in mind that most people with depression are aware of their impact on others. They probably know their family and friends want them to get better and wish they didnt feel this way. This feeling is often so intense that they may feel like a burden, Dr. Jones said.
Youve Been Doing Really Great With : :
Depression after a surgery is fairly common. Its important to remain focused on the positive, especially when facing a longer recovery period. A great way to do this is to celebrate milestones, even small ones, together. Its easy to lose sight of progress if youre only seeing the long road ahead.
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Saying Nothing At All Can Be A Gift
Sometimes silence really is golden and one of the best things you can do is just showing up and being present. What might feel like a small, meaningless gesture to you most likely feels like an intimate, caring gesture to your loved one in need.
Arent You Being A Bit Dramatic
There are psychological, physical and social symptoms of depression which permeate every aspect of a persons life from the minute they wake up to the minute they go to sleep. But it doesnt stop there, people with depression often have trouble sleeping too. This isnt theatrics, this is life.
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Be Ready To Take Action
If your friend says theyre ready to seek help, thats a big breakthrough and you can play a crucial role in supporting them. For a seriously depressed person, action often requires a large amount of emotional effort, since the illness can make them feel drained and hopeless.
Arranging a visit to the persons primary-care physician can be a good way to get the process started, says Dr. Bates. People may be averse to going for mental healthcare because of perceived stigma, she says. If you can engage the person around their physical complaints, you can say, Why dont we get this checked out? A lot of depressed people have body aches and pains its called somatization. Be aware, your friend may be more receptive to taking their doctors referral to a mental health professional than accepting a recommendation from you.
If their doctor assesses that your friend is not in immediate danger of self-harm then they will likely refer them to a psychologist or psychiatrist. You can offer to go along on the appointment, help them set a date and stick to it.
If your friend is expressing hopelessness, dont be afraid to gently ask about suicidal thoughts and intentions you need to know in order to help. If they are actively suicidal, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline , or accompany them to the emergency room. Be their advocate with the police, paramedics, admitting department, nurses and doctors. While this can be difficult to do, it can save their life.
The Risk Of Suicide Is Real
What to do in a crisis situation
If you believe your loved one is at an immediate risk for suicide, do NOT leave them alone.
In the U.S., dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
In other countries, call your countrys emergency services number or visit IASP to find a suicide prevention helpline.
It may be hard to believe that the person you know and love would ever consider something as drastic as suicide, but a depressed person may not see any other way out. Depression clouds judgment and distorts thinking, causing a normally rational person to believe that death is the only way to end the pain theyre feeling.
Since suicide is a very real danger when someone is depressed, its important to know the warning signs:
- Talking about suicide, dying, or harming oneself a preoccupation with death
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness or self-hate
- Acting in dangerous or self-destructive ways
- Getting affairs in order and saying goodbye
- Seeking out pills, weapons, or other lethal objects
- A sudden sense of calm after depression
If you think a friend or family member might be considering suicide, dont wait, talk to them about your concerns. Many people feel uncomfortable bringing up the topic but it is one of the best things you can do for someone who is thinking about suicide. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a persons life, so speak up if youre concerned and seek professional help immediately!
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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.
Continue Supporting Them And Respond To Emergencies
On a bad day, your friend might not want to leave their room. If they say something like Im going to cancel my appointment today, encourage them to follow through with the appointment.
Whether or not your friend has decided to get professional help, its important that they know they can get support from you, or other friends and family.
If you think your friend may be in danger or at risk of hurting themselves or someone else, seek help from a trusted adult or emergency mental health service immediately. Call 000 to reach emergency services and also tell someone you trust.
In more serious cases, its important to let an older/more responsible adult know whats going on. You dont have to be perfect all the time and making mistakes are inevitable and a good thing as we can learn from them. Anzelmo
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Im Really Sorry Youre Going Through This And Im Here For You If You Need Me
The fact is, theres no perfect thing to say to someone living with depression. Your words wont cure them. But they can help. Let them know that there is hope.
Reminding someone that youre there for them whenever they need you whether thats in the form of help with a small task or someone to call in a crisis can be so essential to saving a life.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are three categories of suicide warning signs to look out for:
How Can Friends And Family Help
This information is for friends and family who want to support someone with depression.
The support of friends and family can play a very important role in someone recovering from depression. Here are some suggestions for how you can help.
- Support them to get help. You can’t force anyone to get help if they don’t want it, so it’s important to reassure your loved one that it’s OK to ask for help, and that there is help out there. See our pages on how to support someone else to seek help for their mental health for more information.
- Be open about depression. Lots of people can find it hard to open up and speak about how they’re feeling. Try to be open about depression and difficult emotions, so your friend or family member knows that it’s OK to talk about what they’re experiencing.
“The best things that friends and family can do is simply listen. They often don’t need to say anything, just being willing to listen to your problems makes you feel less alone and isolated”
- Keep in touch. It might be hard for your loved one to have the energy to keep up contact, so try to keep in touch. Even just a text message or email to let them know that you’re thinking of them can make a big difference to how someone feels.
“Talking… not even talking about how I felt. Just talking about stupid things that didn’t matter over coffee, without pressure and knowing that I can talk about the tough stuff if I want to.”
Taking A Stance On Medication
Medication can be very helpful for depression, but it doesnt work well for everyone.
Some people dislike its side effects and prefer to treat depression with therapy or natural remedies. Even if you think your friend should take an antidepressant, remember that choosing to take medication is a personal decision.
Likewise, if you personally dont believe in medication, avoid the subject when talking with them. For some people, medication is key in getting them to a place where they can fully engage in therapy and start taking steps toward recovery.
At the end of the day, whether or not someone with depression takes medication is a very personal decision thats generally best left to them and their healthcare professional.
Depression can increase a persons risk of suicide or self-injury, so its helpful to know how to recognize the signs.
Some signs that might indicate your friend is having serious suicidal thoughts include:
- frequent mood or personality changes
- talking about death or dying
- purchasing a weapon
Symptoms And Signs That Warrant Expert Help
Admission to hospital can occur voluntarily or involuntarily. Involuntary admission or a forced admission against someones will is only used as a last resort if the persons life or other peoples lives are in danger. Hospital admission may be needed for people that:
- Experience hallucinations
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Don’t Invalidate Their Feelings
If a person with depression opens up to you about what they’re experiencing, it’s critical that you provide a safe, non-judgemental space for them to do so. Some examples of what not to say when someone talks about their depression include:
- “You don’t seem sad”
- “I haven’t noticed a change in your attitude or behavior”
- “It’s all in your head’
- “I’ve dealt with worse”
When you dismiss a person’s depressive feelings, it may signal to them that they shouldn’t open up again, are being dramatic, or are at fault for feeling the way they do.
Instead, Gail Saltz, MD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, says to remind them of these things:
- Depression is an illness and not their fault
- You are sorry they are experiencing it
- Treatment can help them
- You will help them through this and find treatment
Remind Them That They Matter
A common feeling among those who are depressed is that their lives don’t matter and no one would even care if they were gone. If you can sincerely tell your friend about all the ways that they matter to you and others, this can help them realize that they have value and worth.
Letting them know that they are an important person in your life can mean a lot when someone is struggling with feelings of depression and worthlessness.
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What To Say To Someone Whos Depressed
One of the worst things about depression is the loneliness and the sense of the world getting on with things without you. If someone tells you they have depression, know that they are showing you part of the beautiful, messy, unpredictable frailties that come with being human. We all have them. It can be difficult to know what to say to someone who is depressed, but know that its unlikely you can make anything worse.