Offer To Help With Everyday Tasks
With depression, day-to-day tasks can feel overwhelming. Things like laundry, grocery shopping, or paying bills can begin to pile up, making it hard to know where to start.
Your friend may appreciate an offer of help, but they also might not be able to clearly say what they need help with.
So, instead of saying Let me know if theres anything I can do, consider saying, What do you most need help with today?
If you notice their refrigerator is empty, say Can I take you grocery shopping, or pick up what you need if you write me a list? or Lets go get some groceries and cook dinner together.
If your friend is behind on dishes, laundry, or other household chores, offer to come over, put some music on, and tackle a specific task together. Simply having company can make the work seem less daunting.
Realize That You Dont Know How They Feel
Depression is not the same as sadness. Most people suffering from depression are hesitant to open up because of the stigma that comes with it, says psychologist Susan Fletcher, PhD, of Fletcher & Associates Psychological Services, PA in Frisco, Texas. Many times well-meaning friends try to make people feel better by telling them they know how they feel. But this makes people with true depression feel like their difficulty is being minimized. Instead, convey the message: I may not understand what you are going through, but I want to learn more, Fletcher says.
How To Talk To Someone With Depression
If you have recognised the signs and symptoms of depression in someone close to you, it can be incredibly helpful to have an open and honest conversation about it, so that you can begin to develop an understanding of what theyre going through and reassure them that theyre not alone.
When to do it
The best time to raise this subject with your loved one is in a situation and location where you know they feel relaxed and at ease, and somewhere where you wont be interrupted. Car journeys are a good example, or perhaps when youre in a quiet local café.
How to start the conversation
Its important that you start the conversation off in a non-confrontational and open-ended way. Try to focus the questioning on your perspective instead of putting it all on them. You could say things like: Ive been a bit worried about you lately or Ive noticed that you havent been yourself and wanted to talk to you about it.
The focus on I instead of you takes the spotlight away from them and makes it more likely that theyll feel comfortable enough to open up to you.
Questions to ask
After you have initiated the conversation, its a good idea to have some questions ready to ask them. This will help you to gain more information about their mood and emotions and be in a better position to help. Your questions might include:
- How long have you been feeling this way?
- How do you feel on a general day-to-day basis?
- Has something happened to make you feel this way?
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Taking Care Of Yourself
Theres a natural impulse to want to fix the problems of people we care about, but you cant control someone elses depression. You can, however, control how well you take care of yourself. Its just as important for you to stay healthy as it is for the depressed person to get treatment, so make your own well-being a priority.
Remember the advice of airline flight attendants: put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. In other words, make sure your own health and happiness are solid before you try to help someone who is depressed. You wont do your friend or family member any good if you collapse under the pressure of trying to help. When your own needs are taken care of, youll have the energy you need to lend a helping hand.
Speak up for yourself. You may be hesitant to speak out when the depressed person in your life upsets you or lets you down. However, honest communication will actually help the relationship in the long run. If youre suffering in silence and letting resentment build, your loved one will pick up on these negative emotions and feel even worse. Gently talk about how youre feeling before pent-up emotions make it too hard to communicate with sensitivity.
Support Their Treatment Plan
It can be difficult to seek help and stick to a treatment plan if you have depression. Supporting the treatment plan your family member or friend has been recommended to follow is important.
You can help support their efforts to get better by:
- Encouraging them to stick to the plan and asking how you can help them.
- Helping them to make and attend appointments.
- Having a positive outlook and encouraging them to join you in eating well, getting out of the house and exercising.
- Providing assistance to carry out tasks they are finding difficult.
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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.
Be Alert To Signs That Treatment Is Not Working
On the other hand, the absence of any such signs most likely means that ones depression is not improving and may be getting worse, Halaris notes, adding that a major concern in the absence of improvement is whether your loved one is having suicidal thoughts.
This is where you need to very gently raise the question whether they are having even fleeting thoughts of their life not being worth living, Halaris says.
According to Mayo Clinic, signs your loved one may be considering suicide include:
- Making statements such as I wish I were dead or I wish I hadnt been born
- Purchasing a gun or hoarding pills
- Fixating on violence, death, or dying
- Withdrawing from social contact with others
- Feeling hopeless or trapped in their current situation
- Telling people, goodbye, as if theyre going to disappear
- Getting their affairs in order or giving away their belongings with no other plausible explanation for doing so
If your loved one shows signs of considering or planning to take their own life, Halaris and Riba recommend taking steps to reduce their risk of attempting or completing suicide, such as:
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Talking Openly About Thoughts Of Suicide Can Help Save A Life
If you are worried that someone is suicidal then ask them. Talking about suicide will not put ideas in their head.
- Ask directly about whether theyve had suicidal thoughts. Have you thought about hurting yourself recently? Do you ever feel so awful that you think about suicide?
- Ask directly about what they are planning. Do you have a plan to take your life or kill yourself? Have you thought about how you would kill yourself? Have your thought about when you would kill yourself – today, tomorrow, in a week or month? If they have made a specific plan they need help straight away. Respond quickly if a suicide attempt seems imminent.
- Offer help and support. Ask them if they would like to talk and remind them that you are there for them. Do not pressure them to talk – it may take time or they may feel more comfortable talking with someone else.
- Listen, take them seriously and let them know you care. Im here for you.
- Remember not to judge. Be supportive, stay calm and offer hope.
- Dont agree to keeping secrets about a suicide plan or suicidal thoughts.
- Help them to get help from professionals and other friends and family who may be able to help. Remember to follow through on offers of help.
Seek Mental Health Resources Together
When it comes to depression, sometimes the hardest step is the initial one. For some people, that may mean researching therapists or outpatient programs to treat depression.
Your friend might want to find professional help but their drive to do so might be missing because depression can zap people’s energy, says Natalie Dattilo, director of psychology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. If your friend asks you to help or they’re open to the idea, hop on the phone or FaceTime and google mental health resources together.
“As a friend, a partner, or a loved one, you could maybe make that first step with them… that they might be reluctant to do,” says Dattilo. You can also offer to take this first step by yourself if they don’t feel up to it, but make sure they agree, and never go behind someone’s back and do it, because it can feel like a breach of trust, says Landau.
Dattilo has looked up resources for her patients when they want to explore extra help beyond what Dattilo provides. But if a loved one doesn’t want your assistance or is resistant to seeking professional help, don’t push it.
Reluctance is common, says Landau, because seeking psychological help is still seen as shameful or weak.
“A person has every right to not pursue mental health treatment if they don’t want to or don’t feel ready to. Sometimes giving our loved one the time and space they need can be the most helpful and loving thing to do,” says Dattilo.
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Ways To Help A Depressed Friend Who Is Going Through A Breakup
The agony and emotional pain after a breakup are something that may not get healed in a flash, but friendship can surely help with recovering from the painful process. Heres a list of ideas on how to help a depressed friend through a breakup.
Good for you for trying to figure out how to help a friend who is depressed after a breakup. The second worst thing in the world, after getting depressed over our own, is watching a friend suffer through a breakup. We have been there and we know how much it hurts and our hearts go out to them.
What we dont always know is what is the best way to help a friend who is depressed after a breakup. The path to breakup recovery is full of minefields and, as a friend, you want to help them through it and not make things worse.
To that end, here are ways to help a friend who is depressed after a break up, ways that will get them through these dark times quicker. And not leading to you ending up with you In the dog house for your efforts.
Know The Definition And Recognize The Signs
According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression, or major depressive disorder, is “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act.” There are a multitude of symptoms, and not everyone experiences them all.
Depression can make people withdraw from social situations, have a hard time going about their daily activities, or be reluctant to socialize altogether . Symptoms can include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, lack of energy, trouble concentrating, and suicidal thoughts, according to the Mayo Clinic. A diagnosis is based on a person continuously experiencing five or more symptoms of depression, such as lethargy, feeling worthless, trouble sleeping or oversleeping, for at least two weeks.
It’s important to note that while people can experience sadness or grief from events like the death of a loved one or losing a job, sadness and grief aren’t the same as depression. However, virtual support can help a loved one in these situations, too.
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Stay Alert For Warning Signs
Your loved one may be coping healthily with their depression, such as talking regularly with a mental health professional or mentioning events or activities they’re looking forward to. But it’s important to be aware of red flags that could signal their depression has worsened or that they’re thinking of attempting suicide.
Some of these warning signs could include an increase in alcohol or drug use , self-harming, conversations that express the desire to die, giving away their possessions, or saying things like, “Thank you, you’ve been a really good friend.”
It can be harder to see these signs virtually. Dattilo suggests if your loved one is late for a scheduled phone call or misses it altogether, that could be a red flag. If they’re intoxicated during your call, are hung over a lot, or tell you they’re drinking more, that might raise your alarm bells. If you’re concerned, you can gently ask, “You don’t seem to be feeling great. Are you OK?” says Dattilo.
You could offer to call a crisis or text hotline together. If you’re concerned about their safety, ask if they think they need to go to the hospital. If they have a close friend or family member in the area, offer to call them so they can accompany your loved one to the hospital.
Reach Out To Friends And Family
A lot of guys hide feeling depressed from the very people that could help the most.
Talking about whats causing you stress or bringing you down can help lessen the intensity of these thoughts. Give those closest to you a chance to help out. Here are some tips on talking to a friend or family member.
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Realize That You Cannot Fix Your Loved Ones Depression However You Can Offer Support
Although you probably want to, you cannot rescue your loved one from depression. The only way an individual who is depressed can improve is through active participation in depression therapy and, when prescribed, taking his or her medication.
You can offer support by helping your loved one as he or she copes with the symptoms of depression. The first step is learning all you can about the disorder and following recommendations provided by reputable mental health professionals.
If Youre Up For Exercise Consider A Walk Around The Block
On days when you feel as if you cant get out of bed, exercise may seem like the last thing youd want to do. However, exercise and physical activity can be powerful depression fighters.
If youre able to, take a walk around the block. Start with a five-minute walk and work your way up from there.
Sleep disturbances are common with depression. You may not sleep well, or you may sleep too much. Both can make depression symptoms worse.
Aim for eight hours of sleep per night. Try to get into ahealthy sleeping routine.
Watch For The Signs And Symptoms Of Depression
Frequently, it is the friends and family of an individual who make up the first line of defense against depression, which is why knowing what to look for is vital. By knowing the signs and symptoms, you may recognize that there is a problem before the sufferer does. At which point your concern and influence may motivate the individual to seek assistance through depression therapy.
The signs of depression include your loved one:
- Having a negative or bleak outlook on his or her life.
- Expressing a feeling of hopelessness.
- Losing interest in things that he or she usually finds pleasurable .
- Withdrawing from family and friends .
- Avoiding social gatherings.
- Expressing a feeling of helplessness.
- Displaying signs of irritability, sadness, moodiness or being short-tempered.
- Eating more than usual.
- Frequently complaining of physical symptoms such as headaches, back pain and stomach issues.
- Has odd sleep patterns .
- Having difficulty making decisions, is disorganized, forgetful and seems as if he or she is in a daze.
- Consistently feeling drained and tired.
- Gaining or losing weight.
- Self-medicating with alcohol, recreational drugs or prescription medications .
Encouraging The Person To Get Help
While you cant control someone elses recovery from depression, you can start by encouraging the depressed person to seek help. Getting a depressed person into treatment can be difficult. Depression saps energy and motivation, so even the act of making an appointment or finding a doctor can seem daunting to your loved one. Depression also involves negative ways of thinking. The depressed person may believe that the situation is hopeless and treatment pointless.
Because of these obstacles, getting your loved one to admit to the problemand helping them see that it can be solvedis an essential step in depression recovery.
If your friend or family member resists getting help:
Suggest a general check-up with a physician. Your loved one may be less anxious about seeing a family doctor than a mental health professional. A regular doctors visit is actually a great option, since the doctor can rule out medical causes of depression. If the doctor diagnoses depression, they can refer your loved one to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Sometimes, this professional opinion makes all the difference.
Offer to help the depressed person find a doctor or therapist and go with them on the first visit.Finding the right treatment provider can be difficult, and is often a trial-and-error process. For a depressed person already low on energy, it is a huge help to have assistance making calls and looking into the options.
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